Uber has offered a lucrative deal to freelancers who have worked for the company for several years, and it could set the stage for the ride-hailing giant to expand into more countries.
The ride-sharing company, which offers a range of services from UberPool to UberWares, on Thursday announced a new contract that will make its drivers eligible for the jobless benefits that other workers can now claim under the Affordable Care Act.
Under the new arrangement, Uber drivers are eligible for three years of the six-month minimum wage, paid sick leave, and paid vacation time.
“We believe that a new and flexible work arrangement for our drivers will be beneficial to them, their families and our company,” said the company in a statement.
For freelancers, the company’s offer is the most significant in a long line of concessions to labor unions, which have been fighting to increase the number of workers eligible for federal unemployment benefits.
The union-backed California AFL-CIO also said the new contract was a win, noting that it could make it easier for workers to get hired and provide workers with additional benefits.
But Uber has faced criticism for its treatment of its drivers and the conditions they are forced to endure, including an ongoing lawsuit that alleges Uber drivers have been pressured into taking jobs for which they are not qualified.
More: The ride-hire company said it has agreed to pay $4.5 million in a settlement with the union, which claims the company “failed to adequately supervise” the drivers and “inappropriately punished” them.
Uber has acknowledged the union-led lawsuit, but has said the agreement does not affect its operations.
On Thursday, Uber also announced a $1.9 billion settlement with Uber drivers.
That deal included a new three-year contract, and Uber said it would help to “increase the number and quality of jobs available for the drivers in the United States.”
While it has offered some new concessions to its drivers, Uber has yet to formally address the widespread labor unrest that has gripped the U.S. in recent months.
Last week, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick promised the company would fix problems with its business model and said he was ready to move forward with a more aggressive strategy.
Read more from The Hill:Uber is now offering $5 million to drivers who quit