In a complete u-turn on its normal stance regarding drivers, ride-hailing giant Uber has announced it will provide a range of insurance coverage for its European drivers, including sickness.

In a statement, the company said it had “focused too much on growth and not enough on the people who made that growth possible”.

In partnership with AXA, Uber will provide drivers with insurance coverage for sickness, injury and maternity and paternity leave through a programme it calls Partner Protection.

The plan covers driver ‘partners’ for costs or lost income as a result of accidents or injuries that occur on a trip, as well as protection for severe sickness, injury, maternity or paternity leave and jury duty, which traditionally meant drivers missed out on potential income because they are classed a freelance contractors.

To be eligible, drivers must have completed at least 150 trips in the eight weeks leading up to a claim, while Uber Eats drivers must have carried out 30 deliveries in the same amount of time.

The programme will come into effect on 1 June and Uber says it will cover more than 150,000 drivers across Europe.

Uber has faced court battles in relation to driver benefits in the past. Last year, it lost a battle with the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the UK, which ruled that drivers should be entitled to the same rights as employees.

The firm has taken strides to improve its public image since CEO Dara Khosrowshahi joined from Expedia in 2017, releasing a number of enhanced safety features for both passengers and drivers and holding meetings with transport authorities to smooth over tense relations.

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