Urban Company tries to soothe frayed nerves of women partners


Women partners on the platform protested demanding better layouts and safer work conditions; firm responds by cutting the commissions it charges on beauty products.

Urban Company, the home services firm, announced a 12-point programme on Thursday to improve partner earnings and livelihood for all partners on its platform in India.

The announcement comes after most women partners on the platform staged a protest last Friday, demanding better layouts and safer working conditions.

Among the provisions in the 12-point programme are reduction of highest commissions in the beauty category, in which most of Urban Company’s female partners work.

“For beauty categories (in which almost all our women partners work), given the impact of Covid-19 and other factors, we are reducing the highest commission slab from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.

“Earlier, commissions ranged from 8.5 per cent for small orders to 30 per cent for high-ticket orders.

“Commissions will now range from 8.5 per cent to 25 per cent.

“The highest slab currently applies to high-value orders and this change will now help partners earn more on these high-value orders (shown below is the commission graph for one of our beauty categories – Salon at home for women).

“Average commissions after this change come out in the range of 20-22 per cent,” Urban Company said in a statement.

The firm will also remove temporary blocks on partners due to algorithmic reasons.

Urban Company partners are algorithmically blocked for a wide variety of reasons from working on the platform for short intervals of time.

The blocks placed due to quality issues will continue to be in place, but Urban Company said about 80 per cent temporary blocks will be lifted by this action.

It is also “marginally increasing prices of several high demand services across categories,” and allow better take home earnings for our partners.

“We want to minimise penalties as much as possible and envisage a platform where no penalties are needed over time.

“Earlier, there was no cap on penalties charged per month per partner, which was recently changed to put a maximum cap of Rs 3,000 on monthly penalties charged per partner.

“We are further reducing the maximum cap on monthly penalties per partner per month to Rs 1,500,” the company said further in its statement.

Further, for any new product launches, Urban Company deductions will be made after the products are delivered to partners and post their consent.

“Additionally, we have reduced product prices of select high demand products by almost 10 per cent,” the company said.

If a customer cancels an order at the last minute, the entire amount charged to them by Urban Company as cancellation fee will be passed on to partners, to compensate for their travel cost.

A Women safety and SOS helpline will also be set up for women partners.

“We will be modifying our logic of partner ratings to not just focus on very recent order feedback but also incorporate ratings from older orders.

“This will ensure due weightage is given to partners for their past association and performance on the platform and also reduce drastic movements in average rating because of a few bad orders.

“Simultaneously, we will double our efforts to ensure effective skilling and retraining is done from time to time,” the company added.

Further efforts will be made in providing water and bathroom usage for partners, extending the reimbursement programme for vaccination of partners, simplifying insurance process claims and making  automatic credit recharges deduction from payout optional.

Photograph: Courtesy Urban Company

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