Uber said it will offer drivers and delivery people 14 days of paid sick leave if they fall ill with coronavirus or are placed in quarantine. It’s a change in policy for the ride-share service, which largely views such workers as independent contractors not eligible for benefits.
“We are supporting drivers and delivery people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine by a public health authority,” Andrew Macdonald, senior vice president of Rides and Platform, said in a statement Saturday. “Drivers and delivery people in these situations will receive compensation for a period of up to 14 days. This has already begun in some markets and we are working to implement mechanisms to do this worldwide. We believe this is the right thing to do.”
The company did not say how much money workers who need to take sick leave will receive. The policy shift comes as coronavirus cases exceed 100,000 worldwide and continue to rise in the United States. People who give rides, or who deliver groceries or restaurant orders for gig-economy companies could be on the front lines as people avoid public transit and rely on deliveries instead of frequenting restaurants and stores. But in the United States, these workers often don’t have paid sick leave.
No federal law requires companies to provide paid sick leave, and almost a quarter of all US workers don’t get it, according to 2019 government data. On-demand companies like Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) previously sent out guidance that encouraged washing hands and sanitizing vehicles. Both companies said they have teams devoted to the issue. Lyft said in a statement Saturday it “will provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.” The company did not elaborate.