Urban Company Denies Women Workers’ Allegations, Says Their Earning Is Fair

Over hundreds of working women protested outside the office of the unicorn start-up in Gurugram against the "abysmally low wages" and the company's "non-transparent manner of dealing with them".

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New Delhi: Home service marketplace Urban Company (UC) on Sunday denied allegations levelled by its women beautician partners of providing very low commission to them and claimed that the earnings are far more than the amount claimed by them.

Over hundreds of working women protested outside the office of the unicorn start-up in Gurugram against the “abysmally low wages” and the company’s “non-transparent manner of dealing with them”.

A beautician partner of the company shared a screenshot that she got Rs 67 as payout after providing a service worth Rs 1,626.

“One of the tweets recently claimed that a beauty partner made Rs 67 for 4 orders. This is a misrepresentation of facts. The screenshot shown is not that of her earnings page but a settlement ledger of the bank transfer,” Urban Company said in a blog post.

It said that the partner accepted cash payments for 2 orders and online payment for the remaining two.

“Her net earnings after UC commissions and other fees for the 4 orders in question delivered on October 13 was Rs 1,941,” UC said.

UC provided a calculation on the cost of service that it offers to users and the wage paid to partners from that work.

PayTM founder and managing director Vijay Shekhar Sharma tweeted in support of the clarification provided by the UC around the complex cost structure involved in offering low-cost services.

UC said that it has always been a platform where both customers and partners are equal stakeholders.

“The very genesis of Urban Company was to organise the home services industry for both customers and partners. In the absence of organised players, the market was controlled by middlemen and aggregators, who restricted market access and kept a lion’s share of the margins.”

“However, we believe we have made the industry more transparent, reduced the number of middlemen and given a voice to the hitherto voiceless informal labour,” the blog post said.

It said that under no circumstances, the company will ever shy away from doing the right thing for our stakeholders.

“This has always been reflected in our business decisions and strategy. We are not perfect, and acknowledge that we might have made mistakes in our journey so far. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing some important programs which we believe will further enhance the earnings and well-being of our partner ecosystem,” UC said.

The company claimed that its partners earn net earnings of Rs 2,80,300 per hour, net of commissions, fees and all associated product and travel costs.

As partners do more orders on the platform and spend around 100 hours per month working for the platform, they see very healthy earnings of Rs 25,000-30,000 per month, the statement added.

“The top quartile of service partners earn over Rs 36,000 per month net of all commissions and costs. Our platform is bouncing back strongly post the second wave, and we expect earnings to be even better in October and the months ahead,” UC said.

The company said that it will publish an update on the blog post at the end of October with the revised data.

“Our estimates suggest that in the offline world, service professionals earn on average between Rs 12,000-15,000 per month,” the post said.

The on-demand home services provider Urban Company in June raised $255 million (about Rs 1,857 crore) in funding led by Prosus Ventures, Dragoneer and Wellington Management, ahead of its plans to launch an IPO in the next two years.

The series F round – which also saw participation from Vy Capital, Tiger Global and Steadview – takes Urban Company’s valuation to $2.1 billion.

The company also responded to the product that it provides to its beautician partners.

It said that the company sells products to service professionals. “These products are genuine, branded and at much lower costs than the offline world, with us passing almost all benefits of bulk procurement to our service partners (In FY21, our products business was operated at near 0 per cent net margin at a slight loss, which can be verified through our annual audited financial statements. Needless to say, partners receive physical GST invoices against all products sold),” UC said.