- Uber and Lyft, the two ride-hailing giants, will give drivers who contract coronavirus or need to be quarantined financial compensation.
- The organization Gig Workers Rising is petitioning the state of California to mandate that “gig economy” workers get paid time off as the virus spreads.
- It is unclear the level of compensation that each company will give drivers infected with the virus.
Coronavirus is forcing people and entities to rethink their operations in what is no longer a business-as-usual situation. Lyft and Uber, whose drivers are exposed to countless riders every day, are dealing with the situation by offering drivers up to 14 days of paid sick leave if they contract coronavirus or are quarantined because of the pandemic.
The decision followed a petition requesting that the ride-hailing companies give their drivers paid time off so they can protect their health and the health of others. Both Lyft and Uber sent an email to riders and drivers updating them on the situation and the decision they had come to.
“Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold,” Uber CEO Dana Khosrowshahi wrote in an email sent Tuesday night. The email Lyft sent yesterday established the same policy. Details of the amount of compensation that drivers unable to work would receive were not given.
Uber has a coronavirus page on its website which says, “We’ve already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we’re working to quickly implement this worldwide.” Lyft’s coronavirus page says they will “provide funds” to drivers diagnosed with COVID-19, without giving details.
Both companies said that they may temporarily suspend a driver’s or rider’s account who tests positive for coronavirus. Additionally, the email from Lyft read, “We’ve partnered with EO Products, makers of Everyone, to distribute more than 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to drivers, at no cost to them.”
Gig Workers Rising, a campaign which works to get those in the gig economy higher wages and benefits, put a petition online to push California lawmakers to mandate that companies such as Uber and Lyft offer paid sick leave to workers. “Every day, I have 20–30 people come into my car with all their germs,”- Yash A., a driver and leader with Gig Workers Rising, wrote on the petition. “While other workers who are exposed at work have things like paid time off and healthcare, I have no protection.”
As of Thursday morning, there have been nearly 1300 reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 37 confirmed deaths.