Gig Workers Unemployment Benefits A Question Mark

Gig Workers Unemployment Benefits A Question Mark

Gig economy workers, despite being included in the federal stimulus for economic recovery from the coronavirus, now face uncertainty over how they’ll get any of the money from government agencies, according to a Reuters report.

Gig workers, including those who work for companies like Uber, DoorDash, GrubHub and many others, count as contract workers, making it uncertain what kinds of documents they will have to submit to prove their income.

The fares and funds coming in for gig workers has dramatically fallen as many normal avenues of life have shut down while people stay indoors to prevent infection or spreading the virus. Boston resident Gail Nappier, 63, drives for Uber and has been seeing about $20 per day — a big difference from the $180 per day she used to make, Reuters reported.

Nappier said it was like “a dangerous game of roulette” to drive for the ride-hailing company now, but she said she had “no other option,” according to Reuters.

With the virus’ unprecedented deluge of effects on the economy, including millions unemployed, state offices have been overwhelmed. Over a dozen state offices said they didn’t have the answers on how gig workers could access unemployment benefits, their hands tied until the federal branch gives more guidance.

Drivers have reported frustrating attempts thus far to access benefits, and Uber has said it plans to work with states to help establish guidelines to get people their money. Lyft said it was trying to make it as easy as possible for drivers to get information to prove their wages.

However, these developments come after years of both Uber and Lyft arguing in favor of their gig worker model, saying their employees liked being on nontraditional schedules, enjoying the lack of usual conventions of a full-time job. The companies never contributed to unemployment insurance funds.

Those details have attracted criticism as of late. California attorney Ronald Zambrano, who has represented drivers in the past, told Reuters it was “an absolute farce” that the ridesharing companies were trying to ask for benefits they should have been offering before anyway.