Mar 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

How Uber will compensate drivers affected by COVID-19

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber released more details about how it will compensate drivers affected by COVID-19, which will be based on their average daily earnings over the last six months.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing and delivery drivers are among the most vulnerable as the virus spreads, both because of the very social nature of their jobs and because they don't qualify for sick leave as independent contractors.

Details:

  • The driver must have completed one trip in the 30 days before March 6 and be diagnosed with COVID-19, be placed in quarantine, asked to self-isolate by a health authority, or have their account restricted because Uber was notified of a diagnosis or exposure.
  • Uber will use the average daily rate a driver has earned in the last six months, or since their first trip if they signed up more recently. Rates will vary per country.
  • For example, a San Francisco driver who earned on average $28.57 per day will get up to $400, while one who earned $121.42 per day will get up to $1,700.
  • Drivers will have 30 days since diagnosis or quarantine date to file a claim online and will be eligible for up to 14 days of compensation.
  • This will not apply in the case of a citywide shutdown of the service.

Lyft, which also announced it will compensate drivers diagnosed or quarantined, will base the amount on their earnings over the previous four weeks, though it hasn't released more details.

The bottom line: Neither company's approach is perfect, and a lot of edge cases could lead to disappointing payouts for drivers, but the current extenuating circumstances were unlikely to be anticipated by any gig economy company.

Go deeper: Virus spread emphasizes precariousness of gig economy work

Go deeper

Virus spread emphasizes precariousness of gig economy work

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While a growing number of white collar companies are asking employees to work from home, gig economy companies seem to be doing little to protect workers in the face of coronavirus — though pressure is mounting for them to do more.

Why it matters: While engineers and business managers at companies like Uber and Lyft can bring their laptops home and access corporate health resources, the independent contractors who ferry passengers, hot meals and groceries, cannot. This highlights painful differences between corporate "haves" and "have-nots."

Podcast: Coronavirus hits the gig economy

Gig economy companies like Uber are struggling to respond to the coronavirus — not only in terms of safety, but also how their decisions could impact the legal battle over whether drivers should be considered employees.

Go deeper: Virus spread emphasizes precariousness of gig economy work

Uber temporarily closes local hubs for drivers amid virus outbreak

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber has temporarily closed its U.S. and Canada Greenlight Hubs, where drivers can go to get in-person help with answering questions and completing forms, in an effort to help lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Uber and other gig economy companies have faced mounting questions over how they'll help their thousands of drivers (who are not employees) given the very social nature of their work.