LONDON – Uber plans to recruit 20,000 more drivers in the United Kingdom to help fill swelling demand for rides as the country’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company said Thursday it aims to sign up the additional drivers by the end of the year, adding to the 70,000 it already has in the U.K.

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Uber said U.K. trips have jumped by 50% since April 12, when British pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen to serve outdoor meals and drinks as part of the government’s plan to relax COVID-19 rules. The remaining restrictions are expected to be lifted by June 21, if virus cases do not increase again.

Uber’s recruitment drive in the U.K. underscores a wider bounce-back for the company after demand bottomed out last year during the depths of the pandemic.

Uber has already said it’s offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives to U.S. drivers after total monthly bookings, including food delivery and passenger service, hit an all-time high in March.

Uber said the new U.K. drivers will be entitled to benefits such as holiday pay and pensions, which it started offering after the U.K. Supreme Court recently ruled that Uber drivers should be classed as workers — not self-employed – and were entitled to such benefits.

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