Uber has made another concession in the row over the rights of drivers, offering them insurance against illness and injury for the first time to ensure they don't lose out on earnings.
The startup will plough what's thought to be a low seven figure sum into the new scheme with the Association of Independent Professionals & the Self-Employed (IPSE).
The 40,000 drivers in the UK will be able to sign up for £2 per week, with Uber also contributing an undisclosed amount to provide benefits in return worth £8. That includes up to £2,000 for drivers unable to work for two weeks or more or on jury service, and £300 per week in on-the-job accident cover.
The move comes amid a row over the status of drivers, with an employment tribunal last year ruling drivers are workers rather than self-employed. Uber will argue against the decision after being granted an appeal, and says the majority of drivers want to be self-employed.
But it has faced fierce criticism, particularly from MPs, along with other companies in the so-called gig economy that it is not doing enough to protect precarious workers.
The government has ordered an investigation of the gig economy and modern work, with the Taylor Review due to make its recommendations in June.
Uber said the new scheme came after feedback from drivers, adding its contribution to it is "substantial".
UK general manager Jo Bertram said:
Drivers who make money through Uber tell us they love the freedom of being their own boss and choosing if, when and where they drive.
But drivers have also told us they want more security if something unexpected happens. That’s why we’re really pleased to offer drivers this package with IPSE so they have more support in case of illness or injury.
“IPSE is excited to partner with Uber and the thousands of self-employed drivers who use their app," said IPSE chief executive Chris Bryce.
"In addition to gaining valuable illness and injury cover, drivers will benefit from being part of the UK’s largest voice dedicated to supporting the self-employed community. It is part of IPSE’s mission to represent all self-employed people and welcoming drivers who use Uber into the fold helps us achieve this."