In recent weeks, some gig-economy companies have responded by offering basic sick leave provisions and cleaning products like hand sanitizer for drivers. Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash said that they would pay workers for 14 days of work if they have a coronavirus diagnosis and need to stay home. Uber and Lyft also said they would provide cleaning products, though they have struggled to place mass orders and distribute the products to drivers.
Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub have also introduced a “no-contact delivery” service so drivers can leave food orders on the front step of a customer’s address without interacting with them.
“Not every job can work from home and certainly that is the reality for our drivers and couriers who need to pay their bills,” Andrew Macdonald, an Uber senior vice president who oversees global operations, said in an interview. “What we’re trying to do is make that experience as safe as possible.”
Uber has 30 people working full time on coronavirus issues, he said. On Sunday, the company introduced a website to help drivers request sick pay. Drivers, who would need documentation from a doctor or public health authority, could request assistance for 30 days after they became sick or were ordered to isolate, Uber said.
Uber and Lyft have since also suspended their carpool services and Uber has warned riders to only travel if necessary.
“We are working hard to support those who drive with Lyft and are coordinating with government officials on additional solutions,” said Alexandra LaManna, a Lyft spokeswoman.
Gig workers in areas with some of the biggest clusters of coronavirus cases have been the most hard hit. In Milan, Italy, Giovanni Marra, 57, has continued to deliver burgers, sushi and other meals for one of the food-delivery apps that have been allowed to keep operating in Italy, Just Eat.