Uber proposes industry-wide gig worker benefits model in Canada

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(Reuters) -Uber Technologies Inc on Monday proposed a plan for a flexible benefits fund for app-based ride-hail and food delivery drivers in Canada under which all gig industry players would share data on workers’ hours and earnings.

Under the proposal outlined in a company blog post https://ubr.to/3t196jm, the fund would provide gig workers with cash benefits to put toward a retirement or life insurance plan, or to pay for educational or dental and health benefits not covered by Canada’s universal healthcare system.

The benefits fund would be enabled by Canada’s provincial governments, Uber (NYSE:UBER) said in the blog post without providing further details, but managed by ride-hail and delivery companies.

The companies would share data on drivers’ hours and earnings and pay into the fund proportionally. Workers would qualify for fund benefits if they meet a threshold, which Uber’s Monday proposal did not disclose.

DoorDash Inc, Lyft Inc (NASDAQ:LYFT) and Just Eat Takeaway.com’s Grubhub did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Uber’s proposal. Uber did not immediately respond to a request on whether the model could be extended to the United States.

Gig companies have long been criticized for the lack of benefits and protections they offer their independent contractor workers. Many labor unions, some lawmakers and the Biden administration, have said gig workers should be reclassified as employees.

The companies have rejected calls for reclassification, citing surveys showing that the majority of their workers do not want to be employees.

In recent years, the companies have begun proposing limited benefit models while maintaining workers’ contractor status, including in California where voters approved such a proposal last year.

The companies at times have argued that apportioning benefits is complicated by the fact that many drivers work for multiple platforms at once.

In a March blog post https://ubr.to/3gLQSgG outlining its initial Canadian proposal, Uber advocated for industry-wide reforms that held every company to the same standards.