Uber proposes industry-wide gig worker benefits model in Canada
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By Tina Bellon
UBER Technologies has 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 preliminary proposal outlined in a company blog post on Monday, the fund would provide gig workers with cash benefits to put towards a retirement or life insurance plan, or to pay for educational or dental and health benefits not covered by Canada's universal health-care system.
Uber said the benefits fund would be enabled by Canada's provincial governments 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 met a threshold, which Uber's Monday proposal did not disclose.
Uber said it welcomed discussions with other industry players, adding that the benefits fund was part of a recent Ontario government submission.
DoorDash said it welcomed other stakeholders who wanted to provide workers with benefits while maintaining their flexibility, but did not directly comment on Uber's plan.
Lyft and Just Eat Takeaway.com's Grubhub did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Uber said it advocated for benefits funds everywhere, but added that labour laws, social safety nets and different cultures meant it would pursue a different approach in every country, with Monday's proposal tailored to Canada.
Gig companies have long been criticised for the lack of benefits and protections they offer their independent contractor workers. Many labour unions, some lawmakers and the Biden administration have said gig workers should be reclassified as employees.
The companies have also faced several lawsuits in Canada and the US, alleging worker misclassification.
The companies have rejected calls for reclassification, saying surveys showed most of their workers do not want to be employees.
In recent years, the companies have suggested limited benefit models while maintaining workers' contractor status, including in California where voters approved such a proposal last year.
The companies have argued that apportioning benefits was complicated by the fact that many drivers worked for multiple platforms at once.
In a March blog post outlining its initial Canadian proposal, Uber advocated for industry-wide reforms that held every company to the same standards.