Uber and Lyft nonetheless aren’t serving to their most weak drivers

Uber and Lyft still aren't helping their most vulnerable drivers


While Knesek, 36, would not have coronavirus, she is immunosuppressed. She obtained a kidney transplant simply over a yr in the past and is on medicine that limits her physique’s means to battle off infections and illnesses. “My doctor advises to only go out when I need lab tests,” she mentioned, including that she has a word from her physician indicating she is within the class of people that must be remoted at residence.
On March 7, Uber was the primary of the on-demand gig companies to say it could compensate employees who’re identified with coronavirus or are positioned in necessary quarantine for as much as 14 days. It shared extra particulars on March 15 concerning the coverage, with standards that mentioned drivers who had been “personally asked to self-isolate by a public health authority or licensed medical provider” might apply for the monetary help by offering a health care provider’s word.
On March 18, Uber added extra particular language on its web page about coronavirus monetary assist that guidelines out Knesek’s eligibility. The standards now states that drivers and supply individuals who “are personally asked by a public health authority or licensed medical provider to self-isolate due to your risk of spreading COVID-19” can qualify. It doesn’t say something about those that are staying residence with underlying circumstances as a result of they’re extra weak to contracting the virus. As public well being authorities have advised, these individuals are in danger for critical problems in the event that they contract the virus.
As circumstances of coronavirus rack up throughout the US, the individuals who give rides, ship groceries or restaurant orders for gig financial system corporations are on the frontlines of the outbreak. Gig employees have lengthy had a contentious relationship with the businesses they work for, and that pressure is increasingly palpable within the midst of this unprecedented public well being disaster. Many cannot afford to remain residence and never work however are getting little assist from the businesses they work for. Because the businesses largely deal with their employees as impartial contractors — a standing that’s at the moment being challenged within the state of California — they do not obtain advantages equivalent to medical insurance, paid break day or sick go away.
In the wake of the outbreak, most of the gig financial system corporations agreed to supply a type of paid sick go away for the primary time for drivers who’re identified with coronavirus or positioned beneath necessary quarantine. The monetary help from Uber, for example, relies on a driver’s common each day earnings over the previous six months, so the payout can vary from $400 to $1,700.

But a number of drivers informed Source Business they believed they’d qualify for much-needed monetary help from Uber if that they had underlying well being circumstances primarily based on the preliminary language the corporate detailed. Some, like Knesak, tried to use for help earlier than the corporate additional up to date its language to specify individuals would solely qualify in the event that they had been liable to spreading coronavirus. Others do not need entry to medical insurance or a main care doctor to offer a health care provider’s word even when the corporate would think about it.

“The growing fear and disruption caused by the coronavirus is being felt by everyone around the world. We know this is especially true for people who drive and deliver with Uber,” an Uber spokesperson mentioned in an announcement. “We have a dedicated team working around the clock to support drivers and delivery people. We are providing up to 14 days financial assistance to drivers diagnosed with COVID-19, or individually asked to be quarantined by a public health authority due to a risk of spreading COVID-19 as announced on 3/15.”

In an announcement to Source Business, Lyft mentioned: “This is an unprecedented situation and we are doing everything we can to meet the challenge. We have already diverted team members away from other areas to handle these inquiries full-time, and are actively adding more resources, to help address these inquiries as quickly as possible.”

Lyft’s language states that it is going to solely assist “affected drivers who are identified to us by public health officials or who contact our support team to self-report and provide documentation that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.” DoorDash and Instacart have similarly said they will solely compensate employees who’ve examined constructive for coronavirus or are positioned beneath necessary quarantine.
Meanwhile, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi appealed to President Donald Trump in a letter sent earlier this week to offer financial assist for Uber drivers and different impartial contract employees. Khosrowshahi mentioned “my greatest responsibility in the face of unprecedented economic challenge is to the millions of people who drive and deliver on Uber’s platform.” He was cautious to characterize it not as a “bailout for Uber” however “rather for support for independent contractors.”
Gig employees can be eligible to obtain federal assist beneath the $2 trillion emergency package accredited by the US Senate Thursday. It extends unemployment insurance coverage to gig employees, together with 4 months of $600 per week. The invoice is pending a vote within the House.
Also this week, a gaggle of San Francisco Supervisors introduced a resolution calling on authorities officers to implement the brand new California AB-5 legislation so employees might entry protections as workers equivalent to unemployment insurance coverage and paid sick go away.

In the meantime, although, some drivers must work but additionally know doing so might compromise their well being.

Steve Gregg, an Uber driver within the Bay Area who organizes for Gig Workers Rising, mentioned he equally tried to use for monetary assist final week utilizing a health care provider’s word, earlier than Uber added extra specificity to its coverage. Gregg, 51, mentioned he has a number of underlying circumstances that make him keep residence amid the pandemic. He’s borderline diabetic, has compromised lungs, and hypertension.

He obtained a rejection discover from Uber that mentioned he was not “eligible for financial assistance because your documentation does not indicate that you have been exposed to COVID19, have been tested for COVID19, or have been diagnosed with COVID19.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” mentioned Gregg, who famous he doesn’t have medical insurance. He had a weekly Avis automotive rental fee of $250 per week, one thing he gave up this week.

Erica Mighetto, an Uber and Lyft driver who’s at the moment within the Berkeley space, mentioned she equally has a automotive mortgage to pay for, however has a coronary heart situation and is fearful about persevering with to work. “My car payment is a month behind, I need to make another payment on the 28th.”

Mighetto, 38, who organizes with one other driver advocacy group known as Rideshare Drivers United, mentioned she didn’t try to use for monetary assist by means of the businesses as a result of she doesn’t have a main care doctor, or medical insurance, and wouldn’t be capable of present a health care provider’s word. Even if she might, as Gregg and Knesek have realized, an underlying situation would not be sufficient to qualify her.

“As gig economy workers we are put in a really tough spot — you’d think it would be a really easy decision,” she informed Source Business. “If I don’t work and we get past all of this, I’m not just starting from square one, I’m starting without a car.”

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