PARIS (Reuters) - Uber plans to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
The San Francisco-based taxi app, which tied up with insurer AXA last year to offer French drivers accident cover, said the scheme will include other European countries and a maternity/paternity payment from June 1.
Uber’s new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, ahead of so-called “Tech for Good” workshops with the heads of tech giants Facebook, Microsoft and IBM.
The app is striving to shore up its image after allegations of sexual harassment and mistreatment of drivers led to the resignation of its former boss Travis Kalanick last year.
Uber has been challenged by lawmakers, workers’ rights advocates and the established taxi industry who say it undercuts rival services because it uses independent workers who do not enjoy the same rights and benefits as permanent employees.
Uber said on its blog that so-called Partner Protection will be made available for more than 150,000 drivers and couriers at no cost and will be provided in 21 European countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
And “off-trip coverage” will include a single payment of 1,000 euros to men and women for the birth of a new child.
For severe accidents while working, drivers will receive up to 50,000 euros if they are left permanently unable to work.
Other benefits include the payment of medical costs incurred outside of the free healthcare and the single payment of up to 1,000 euros for a 24-hour hospitalization.
Drivers who are temporarily unable to work will be compensated for up to 30 days if the accident occurs during their work. The compensation will vary by country and be based on 80 percent of the driver’s median gross daily earnings.
Uber is also appealing a decision by London’s transport regulator last September to strip it of its licence after it was deemed unfit to run a taxi service.
Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic in PARIS; Additional reporting by Costas Pitas in LONDON; Editing by Alexander Smith