New Uber App Pairs Gig Workers With Employers


Uber Technologies Inc.

has launched an app aimed at pairing businesses with temporary workers in an effort to bring in more revenue as the company struggles to turn a profit.

The Uber Works app, which debuted in Chicago on Thursday, will match workers such as chefs and cleaners with companies looking to fill a temporary opening, the company said late Wednesday.

The app enables users to sift through jobs by location, pay and skills, Uber said, adding that it spent the past year testing it. Uber also said it plans to work with staffing agencies including

TrueBlue Inc.

that employ, pay and handle worker benefits.

Uber’s move to offer a service to gig workers, rather than employ them directly, comes as its mainstay business is under immense financial and regulatory pressure. Last month, California passed employment legislation intended to force companies that rely on gig workers to reclassify such independent contractors as employees. Uber and rival

Lyft Inc.

have spent much of the year opposing it, arguing that it would introduce new costs and hurt their drivers who prefer flexible work arrangements.


Would you use or recommend using the Uber app for finding “gig work”? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

The law threatens to upend Uber’s business model, which relies on gig workers such as drivers, and further erode its bottom line. The company in August posted its largest quarterly loss, weighed down by competition in growth markets such as Latin America, slowing growth in its core ride-hailing business and one-time expenses related to its initial public offering. Revenue grew 14% to $3.17 billion in the second quarter, Uber’s smallest quarterly increase. The company laid off more than 400 technical employees last month.

Uber wants to tap into a lucrative market with its new app. Over a third of U.S. workers participate in the gig economy through their primary or secondary jobs, a 2018 Gallup study found. The International Labor Organization estimates that gig workers will account for 43% of the U.S. workforce by 2020, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Uber Works won’t be the first to connect temporary workers with potential employers.

Upwork Inc.


Fiverr International Ltd.

, which completed initial public offerings last year and this year, respectively, are among startups that have launched platforms to help connect freelancers with work. Venture-capital firms including Sequoia Capital back other players that offer a similar service.

Nevertheless, it shows how aggressively Uber is expanding into new areas. An Uber spokesman said Works will make money by charging businesses a fee.

Chief Executive

Dara Khosrowshahi

said last week that the company was experimenting with merging some of its services onto the same app. Uber’s offerings include ride-sharing, food delivery and on-demand helicopters.

It is separately ramping up hiring for its freight business at a planned hub in Chicago.

For an increasing number of Americans, a patchwork of gig work is the norm, while others have become so-called independent workers because they take second jobs through digital platforms like Uber or Etsy to make ends meet. But nearly all face the challenges of inconsistent income and access to benefits.

Write to Preetika Rana at [email protected]

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