Uber launches Uber Works for cleaners, bartenders and other gig workers

4 Oct 2019

Image: © jaruek/Stock.adobe.com

The new service has been met with criticism due to the company’s historical controversies involving workers’ rights.

This week, Uber launched a new app designed to put casual workers and jobseekers in touch with employers across the service industry.

In a blogpost the company published on Wednesday (2 October), Uber wrote: “Workers face rigid scheduling and opaque information about where they can pick up shifts and how much they can expect to earn. Businesses struggle to staff up to meet peak demand and have to grapple with missed shifts and high turnover.”

Uber said that it has developed a new, “technology-first” approach, which can provide faster and easier means for people to find work, with an app called Uber Works.

The platform, which will work just like the company’s ride-hailing and food delivery platforms, has now launched in Chicago.

It enables gig workers to get detailed information about shifts, required attire and the gross pay available in restaurants, bars, warehouses or other places of employment that they are considering working in.

“Uber Works also serves as a one-stop shop for all time-tracking needs, allowing users to clock in and out and log breaks,” the company added.

Uber is not the first business to target contract workers or work with agencies through an app. Competitors in this market, both in Europe and the US, include the likes of Bacon, Catapult, JobToday, Wonolo, Workpop and Shiftgig.

Ongoing controversies

The move was met with mixed reactions due to a number of ongoing worker controversies surrounding Uber, with Gizmodo’s angle on the news being ‘Uber seeks to crush souls of greater pool of gig workers’.

The tech publication described Uber as “a company arguably just exploiting human workers while it figures out how to pivot to automation”, after Uber recently said that drivers were not “core” to its business, despite the fact that the company runs a ride-hailing service that relies completely on human drivers for the time being.

It wasn’t just Gizmodo that questioned the intentions behind Uber Works. TechCrunch wrote: “Becoming a matchmaker for shift work looks to be the next step on Uber’s quest for sustainability – both of its core business and, well, its reputation for exploiting labour.”

It’s likely that California’s new legislation to protect gig workers would also affect the company’s roll-out of this feature, if it were to extend beyond Chicago to the golden state.

The AB-5 bill could force Uber to classify its drivers as employees, providing them with benefits, wages, health insurance, social security, sick pay and overtime.

While this bill affects companies like Lyft and Uber, it also impacts smaller businesses, offering protections to cleaners, nail salon workers, construction workers and franchise owners, who could all be reclassified as employees, rather than self-employed workers.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic