HR · 28 April 2017

Uber drivers offered basic workplace rights in new deal

Uber drivers
The benefits scheme is expected to cost Uber millions of pounds a year

UK Uber drivers have been offered a special deal giving them access to basic employment rights such as sick pay and injury cover.

The taxi app has teamed up with the Association of Independent Professionals & the Self-Employed (IPSE) to provide its 40,000 UK drivers with the new service. The deal marks the first major response to wider criticism over the lack of rights for gig economy workers.

As part of a bespoke membership package with IPSE, a £2 per week payment will give Uber drivers access to a service that reflects a more traditional model of employment.

Some of the benefits now afforded to Uber drivers include sickness and injury cover up to £2,000 and jury service cover up to £2,000. IPSE has said it will also provide free tax and personal finance advice with the aim of supporting the long-term futures of Uber drivers.

However, the service will only be available to Uber drivers who have completed at least 500 trips via the app. In this sense, it is a solution for those relying on Uber as a long-term form of employment.

Commenting on the partnership with Uber, Chris Bryce, IPSE chief executive, said the organisation was “delighted” with the venture and clarified the organisation’s position on representing workers in the gig economy.

“IPSE worked hard with Uber to develop a membership offering for this growing part of self-employment. Bringing drivers who use the app into its membership is part of IPSE’s mission to better reflect the reality of self-employment in the UK,” Bryce said in a statement.

Announcing the deal, the app’s UK manager Jo Betram said a majority of Uber drivers “love the freedom of being their own boss and choosing if, when and where they drive”.

“We want Uber to be the best possible experience so we’ll carry on listening to drivers about further improvements we can make to our app,” she added.

A tribunal in October 2016 ruled in favour of Uber drivers against the company, stating employees were entitled to workplace benefits such as holiday pay, sick leave and the National Living Wage.

To explain why self-employment was an insufficient way of describing the work of Uber drivers, the tribunal’s judges maintained the nature of work was “strictly on Uber’s terms”.

“The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous,” the judges said.

A new study from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has revealed as many as 1.1m people are working in Britain’s gig economy – almost as many as the NHS.

RSA claimed its survey was the most substantial yet into the model of employment, and suggested as many as eight million people were interested in working in the gig economy.

To cope with these expectations, RSA called on government to deliver an effective response that ensures the industry is committed to “good work”, and giving workers more power to hold employers to account.

Read our interview on the future of the gig economy with head of RSA Matthew Taylor

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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