Uber announced Wednesday that it would provide insurance for the roughly 150,000 independent drivers and couriers in Europe who operate on the companys digital platform.
That includes protection against injuries while they worked with Uber, as well as additional insurances to cover major illnesses and maternity leave when individuals are not working on the network.
The program will begin on June 1, and Uber said it would cover the additional costs, which were expected to reach into the millions of euros each year.
“We dont think you deserve to have first-class and second-class citizens,” Ubers chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview with POLITICO. “We think that you should have access to many of the universal rights that people take for granted in Europe, including benefits and medical coverage.”
Ubers move to provide employment insurance to its European drivers marks a shift after the company had fought a series of legal challenges across the Continent and the U.S. to give so-called gig economy workers, or individuals on short-term or freelance contracts, greater employment rights.
In November, the ride-booking service, for example, lost its appeal in the United Kingdom that said its drivers should be classified as workers with a right to a minimum wage. A California court made a similar ruling last month.