Uber sent an email last month offering to pay some health insurance costs to some drivers and delivery workers – and then revoked that offer two weeks later.
There were unspecified numbers of Uber drivers and delivery workers who received an email from the company on May 26th with the subject line “It’s a great time to get health coverage.” The email they received conveyed an even more alluring proposition: “Uber offers health insurance.”
Drivers and couriers working for Uber are considered independent contractors, so their employer cannot offer them health insurance. Despite efforts by these workers to gain more benefits and protections, Uber has traditionally resisted any such requests.
It is difficult to imagine the shock of drivers opening this email and finding that they were eligible for subsidies ranging from $613.77 to $1,277.54, depending on their insurance plan and the number of hours they worked.
With such money, drivers, thousands of whom live on poverty-level wages and are finding it hard to find work during the pandemic, may be able to transform their lives. Why has Uber changed its position so dramatically?
There has been no change, as it turns out. A driver and delivery worker email was sent to only drivers in California, and not to anyone else. One driver received an email reading, “Unfortunately we misunderstood that this policy applies only to drivers and delivery people in California.” Please accept our apologies.
Company representatives are helping delivery workers and drivers who received the mistaken email.
Uber poured over $200 million into the “Yes on 22” campaign last year to get out from under a California law that requires gig economy companies to treat their workers like employees.
In opposition to the law, the companies argued it would eliminate driver flexibility and increase consumer prices and wait times. With 59 percent of the vote, the measure was passed in November 2020.
As outlined in Prop 22, Uber and other gig employers must “provide healthcare subsidies equal to 41 percent of the average premium [California Coverage for the month]” to drivers and couriers “who work an average of 15 to 25 hours each week” There were no drivers or couriers in California for that week, so it’s not clear why the email ended up in their inboxes as well.