Uber’s CEO revealed that the company is looking into offering its drivers health insurance and other benefits through a “portable” system that would cover contractors from job to job.
“For the first time, I think we are now listening to our drivers, and we are building out our services in concert with them,” Dara Khosrowshahi said this week at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, California.
While Uber calls its drivers “partners,” the company has long been criticized for policies that don’t treat them as such, particularly when it comes to giving its independent contractors the same benefits that Uber provides to its full-time employees.
“If you’re going to call your drivers partners, then treat them like partners,” Khosrowshahi said. “So that you don’t get this world where independent contractors are the ‘have-nots’ and full time employees are the ‘haves.’”
Uber recently started providing its drivers in the European Union with healthcare and accident insurance, as well as maternity and paternity leave. And while it implemented the new policy after being pressured by European labor standards, Khosrowshahi has talked about expanding that coverage globally.
“Where we would like to take independent contractors is into a state where it’s not a ‘have-not’ state — you can create a framework of benefits, etc., around the world as well,” he said. “We have a long way to go, but at least in Europe we’ve gotten one step closer.”
However, Uber wouldn’t foot the bill on its own, which is where the portable benefits system comes into play. In fact, Khosrowshahi spoke about a future where workers don’t need to be tied down to a single employer because they’re afraid of losing their medical and dental insurance.
“I think that work should be about work, not about company,” he said.