Uber boss claims drivers want flexibility more than employee benefits

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Laurence Dodds
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
A light-skinned Persian man with thinning hair and a neat brown beard mottled with large patches of grey steeples his fingers together as he speaks into a microphone in front of a large black and gold background emblazoned with Uber's corporate logo. He looks to be in his forties or fifties, with a steady, pensive gaze and a crisp white shirt open at the collar. - Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters
A light-skinned Persian man with thinning hair and a neat brown beard mottled with large patches of grey steeples his fingers together as he speaks into a microphone in front of a large black and gold background emblazoned with Uber's corporate logo. He looks to be in his forties or fifties, with a steady, pensive gaze and a crisp white shirt open at the collar. - Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

The chief executive of Uber has insisted that its drivers want flexibility above the benefits of employment in the wake of a landmark UK court ruling that classified them as workers.

Dara Khosrowshahi, who has run the taxi-hailing app since 2017, said its 3.9m drivers across the world "overwhelmingly" value changeable hours as their first priority, without addressing the UK case directly.

Speaking at a conference on Monday, the former Expedia boss touted Uber's successful referendum campaign to lock in favourable laws in California as a model for other countries.

It comes after the UK's Supreme Court found that Uber's drivers are not independent contractors because they cannot set prices or control what jobs they take, entitling them to sick pay, holidays and the minimum wage.

Mr Khosrowshahi said: "We won [in California] because ultimately the voters listen to drivers, and drivers overwhelmingly value flexibility as number one."

However, he said Uber still wants to give drivers benefits, citing laws it is pushing in the European Union that would allow it to do so while preserving drivers' contractor status.

He said that UberEats, the company's meal delivery business, would not slow down after countries reopen their economies, predicting continued growth rates of 100pc or more.

He also claimed that Uber's delivery businesses together could soon make a profit of more than 30pc, despite the company's longtime struggle to break even.

Polls commissioned by Uber found that 72pc of app-based drivers in California supported the referendum campaign backed by the company. Critics said the polls' questions were slanted in favour of the initiative.