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Uber gives drivers a chance to save for retirement

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Uber is providing its drivers a new convenience, not to be confused with an employee benefit. The ridesharing giant holds firm to its stance that its drivers are independent contractors and not employees, a position drivers are fighting in court. Against that backdrop, however, Uber just announced a retirement savings account (RSA) program for its drivers, according to Silicon Beat.

In a post on the Uber blog, the company explains its partnership with Betterment for the driver RSAs. Uber describes Betterment as “the largest independent robo-advisor.” The new plan is available now to Uber drivers in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and the state of New Jersey. Uber intends to extend the plan nationwide.

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“With Uber, you can push a button and get work,” reads the blog post. “And now, drivers can use the same innovative app that gives them complete control over their time and schedule to have the opportunity to take control of their financial future as well.”

It’s worthy of note that the phrase “complete control over their time and schedule” is one of the litmus tests for deciding whether someone is an employee or a contractor.

It’s also worth noting that Uber drivers say they do not have complete control of their schedule, since the company gives them “time-outs” for not accepting a minimum number of trips.

The RSA will have no fees for the first year. Drivers can open a traditional Betterment IRA or a Roth IRA. No minimum account balance is required and Betterment advisers will “walk investors of every skill level through every step of the investment process.” Retirement accounts are highly regulated in the U.S. and investment advisers are mandated to assess client investment skill and risk acceptance levels.

This quasi-benefit makes it easy for Uber drivers to save their own money in retirement accounts. The RSAs, however, cannot be confused with a real employee benefit for which an employer generally bears some expense.