Belfast Telegraph

Uber launching financial advice sessions and appeals panel for UK workers

Uber is offering English courses, financial advice and introducing an appeals panel for its UK workers after facing criticism over lack of support and rights for its drivers.

The ride-hailing app says the changes were sparked after holding feedback sessions with "thousands" of drivers in recent months.

It is now launching earnings advice sessions on how to best take advantage of the app, flexible pay options that allow drivers to cash out their fares before the end of the week and discounted online investment advice for products like ISAs and pensions.

Jo Bertram, Uber's regional general manager for the UK, said: "While drivers tell us they love the freedom of being their own boss we also know there are many things Uber can do better.

"Over the last year we've listened to thousands of drivers across the UK and that's already led to improvements like the driver destinations feature."

Ms Bertram said further initiatives would be announced over the next few months.

It comes shortly after Uber lost a landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers rather than being self-employed, back in October.

Uber claimed it is a technology company rather than a taxi firm, and says employment arrangements allow its 30,000 drivers across England and Wales to be their own boss and work flexibly.

But the tribunal panel offered a scathing dismissal of Uber's arguments, suggesting the firm had tried to bamboozle its drivers and passengers with "fictions", "twisted language" and "brand new terminology".

The case was the first time Uber has faced legal action in the UK over whether its drivers are workers or self-employed.

Uber has filed an appeal on the judgment.

As part of its new offerings for drivers announced on Thursday, Uber said workers will have access to free skills courses through FutureLearn, and free online language courses ahead of new English test requirements set to be enforced by Transport for London in September.

Drivers that have stopped working with Uber will also have the right to appeal against "certain decisions" to a panel of other drivers, the company said.

Uber said: "The issue of when we have to end partnerships with drivers came up in some of our roundtable discussions.

"While this does not happen very frequently, it's sometimes necessary - such as when serious incidents have been reported and investigated.

"We want to ensure that this process is transparent and as fair as possible."

Further details on the nature of the panels will be released to drivers over the coming days.

But the GMB union, which supported drivers in the employment tribunal last year, said "free English lessons and updated community guidelines" would not "address the issue of paying workers below the minimum wage".

GMB legal direction Maria Ludkin said: "Uber have come up with a package of cosmetic measures which they claim address drivers concerns. The measures do not address the concerns of the hundreds of drivers contacting GMB who are focused on getting basic workers' rights.

"Uber have missed a golden opportunity to start complying with the law. They continue to ignore the decision of the courts that drivers are employed workers with rights to receive holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks."

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