Coronavirus

Ride-hailing, Delivery Cos. Eye Coronavirus Worker Pay Fund

Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates and Lyft are considering establishing a fund to pay workers who are either sickened or quarantined by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The ride-hailing and delivery companies are continuing to talk about setting up a fund and should have a plan in several days, published reports said. This comes on the heels of an Uber driver in New York City testing positive for the coronavirus. The company told the WSJ that no passengers had been infected to its knowledge.

At issue is that most of those companies’ workers are considered contractors and as such don’t get time off. But some drivers say compensation after a definite diagnosis may not be enough — most of them don’t receive paid time off for illnesses, which is one particular issue lawmakers have begun to hone in on.

The companies, meanwhile, are fighting a new California law that requires them to classify drivers as employees.

The decision for Uber to begin compensating those infected with the virus is different from the company’s earlier decision to quarantine 240 passengers suspected of having traveled in ways that could have exposed them to the virus. At the time of that incident in early February, no Mexican patients of the virus had occurred yet.

Uber had already started compensating drivers in some areas, according to Reuters. The company said plans were to eventually compensate drivers worldwide. It planned to offer compensation to drivers and delivery people diagnosed with coronavirus for up to 14 days if they were in quarantine.

Bloomberg reported that Uber had already paid quarantined drivers, but ultimately not infected, in the U.K. and Mexico, and had said it would pay for the services in the U.S. as well.

The coronavirus, initially infecting residents of China, has spread worldwide, causing thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of infections. The world economy has also taken hits, with slowdowns in manufacturing and tourism caused by fears of the virus’ spread.

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