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Uber Works’ launch reveals swerve away from transportation

Three smartphone screen views of the Uber Works app

When it comes to the on-demand economy, Uber continues to branch out. Beyond its initial ridesharing segment, Uber has moved into micro-mobility with Jump e-bikes and scooters, food delivery with UberEats, and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in regard to Uber’s recent app overhaul that Uber wants to be “the operating system for your daily life.” 

Enter Uber Works – an app that connects shift-workers with shift jobs. The app officially launched in Chicago on October 2.  

Uber Works will also allow workers to clock in and out, get paid on time and provide opportunities for professional feedback. According to Uber Works, this service will empower workers with greater accessibility and transparency. For businesses, it will flood the pool with vetted workers, especially during unexpected busy seasons, and reduce stress by providing a scheduling system. 

“Workers face rigid scheduling and opaque information about where they can pick up shifts and how much they can expect to earn,” the Uber blog explains. “Uber Works can get detailed information about shifts they’re interested in, including information about gross pay, work location and skills, or required attire.” 

By partnering with the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago and Arizona State University, Uber Works maintains that its goal is not only to provide employment, but also education and skill-building. The company is also connecting with faith and community groups to see how Uber Works can address longer-term employment needs. 

While it seems that Uber Works would cut out the work of staffing agencies, it actually partnered with True Blue and other agencies that employ and pay W2 workers, as well as distribute benefits and withhold taxes, says Xavier Van Chau, Uber’s Public Affairs Lead.  

“These workers access the Uber Works platform to connect with businesses looking to fill available shifts,” Van Chau said. “Partnered staffing agencies provide employee benefits to workers as required by federal, state and local laws, including for instance workers comp and health plan coverage.”

Uber’s entrance into the staffing segment comes at an interesting time. In September, California’s AB5 bill was signed into law, which will require transportation companies like Uber and Lyft to provide employee benefits to their contract workers. 

Uber claims it’s a technology company with an app, as opposed to a transportation company, which would help it dodge the repercussions of this law. The launch of Uber Works, Uber’s first non-mobility segment, further supports this claim. 

Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.