Uber offers to pay for drivers’ health insurance, and then yanks it away


‘We sincerely apologize for this error.’

Uber mistakenly offered some of its drivers and delivery workers to cover some of their health insurance costs last month – only to rescind the offer two weeks later.

On May 26, an email from Uber with the catchy subject line “It’s a great time to get health coverage” appeared in the inboxes of an unspecified number of the company’s drivers and delivery employees. When he opened the email, he was greeted by an even more tempting offer: “Uber can help cover your health care costs.”

Uber drivers and couriers are classified as independent contractors, making them ineligible for employer-sponsored health insurance plans. Over the years, many of these workers have lobbied for more benefits and protections, only to face stiff opposition from Uber.

So one can only imagine the shock of drivers who opened this email and saw an offer for a subsidy ranging from $613.77 to $1,277.54 depending on the type of insurance plan they had and the amount of hours they worked each week. depends on. That kind of money could be transformative for drivers, many of whom subsist on poverty level wages And are struggling to find work amid a sharp drop in demand during the pandemic. What could be the reason for this radical change in the situation by Uber?

May 26 email promising health insurance subsidy.

The June 9 email is canceling those subsidies.

As it turned out, nothing has changed. Uber intended to send emails only to drivers and delivery workers in California, not any other state. “Unfortunately, we made a mistake sending you this email, as this policy only applies to drivers and delivery people in California,” the email to one driver read. “We sincerely apologize for this error.”

A spokesperson said the company’s support team is working with drivers and delivery workers who received the email in error.

Last year, Uber — along with Lyft, DoorDash, and other gig economy companies — invested more than $200 million in a “Yes on 22” campaign to exempt them from California state law, which requires them to act as employees on their own. Will need to deal with employees. Companies aggressively opposed the law, arguing that it would eliminate driver flexibility, while also increasing consumer prices and waiting times. The measure passed in November 2020 with 59 percent of the vote.

Under Prop 22, Uber and other gig work companies are required to “provide health subsidies equal to an average of 41 percent. [California Coverage] Premium for each month” for drivers and couriers “who average between 15 and 25 hours of busy time per week.” That would explain the email, but it doesn’t explain why it ends up in the inboxes of those drivers and couriers Happened to those who do not live in California.

Edward Burmilla, a political science professor who lives in Raleigh, NC and sometimes drives for Uber, received the original email about health subsidies. “I may be an unusual Uber driver – I have a PhD and so I tend to think of these things in political terms – but it is part of the ridiculous song-and-dance that ride-share companies have always been doing to keep the imagination going. that their labor force is not workers or workers,” wrote Burmilla. ledge in an email.

“It also shows that they will provide benefits – for riders or for passengers – only when they are compelled,” he said.

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