Amazon Flex drivers won’t be paid if they have to stay home due to coronavirus, but Uber’s will

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon has told its contract Flex drivers, which deliver the e-commerce company’s packages, to stay home if they get sick amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to a memo obtained by OneZero. But while Amazon’s Flex Drivers won’t be paid, Uber said late Friday that it will give its drivers up to 14 days of sick pay if they miss work due to coronavirus.

Here’s Amazon’s full memo to drivers, from OneZero:

 Image: OneZero

It’s worth noting that Amazon doesn’t specifically say in this memo that Flex drivers won’t be paid — but any time one of those drivers isn’t working, they aren’t getting paid. So if they’re homebound due to coronavirus, it doesn’t seem as if the company will be taking care of them in any way — unlike Amazon’s hourly workers, who will receive their regular pay even if they have to stay home. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Right now, most other companies that rely on gig workers also don’t provide restitution for those workers if they have to take time away due to coronavirus. On Friday, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) sent letters to Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Instacart asking them to provide financial assistance to gig workers who may get sick or have to self-quarantine due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“I strongly urge that you attempt to address the potential financial hardship for your workers if they are sick or have to self-quarantine during this time,” said Warner in the letters. “In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that platform companies lead by example by committing that economic uncertainty will not be deterrents to their workers following public health guidance during the response.”

Uber said late Friday that it will compensate drivers and delivery workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are quarantined by a public health authority due to the novel coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reports. Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s senior vice president of global rides and platform ops, wrote in an internal memo that the workers will receive compensation “for a period of up to 14 days,” and that it has already started in some of Uber’s markets, including Mexico and the UK, according to the WSJ.

To qualify for the compensation, drivers will need to provide documentation, either showing that they’ve been diagnosed with the virus or that a public health official has placed them under quarantine, according to Business Insider.

How much the drivers will be compensated is still to be determined. Uber tells the WSJ it’s not aware of coronavirus infections spreading between its drivers and riders. The company declined to say how many, if any, of its drivers had been diagnosed with the virus or placed under quarantine.

Earlier Friday, an Uber spokesperson said the company was “exploring compensation for drivers who have been quarantined or diagnosed with coronavirus, whether independently, through a fund, or in partnership with peer companies,” in a statement given to The Los Angeles Times.

Lyft said it is “focused on taking appropriate actions and are actively planning for multiple scenarios,” in a statement to TechCrunch. “We stand ready to coordinate with government officials.” Both Uber and Lyft have also shared guidance with drivers to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Postmates plans to brief Warner’s office on plans to “invest in the well being of our flexible workforce,” the company told TechCrunch. The company also added a “non-contact” delivery option on Friday to allow for meals to be dropped off or left by a customer’s door to cut down on direct contact between delivery drivers and Postmates users.

Grubhub said it is “focused on prioritizing the health and safety of our drivers, diners and restaurant partners,” in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. “We share Senator Warner’s concerns about the safety and welfare of our drivers and look forward to working with the Senator on these important issues.”

DoorDash said it “will continue to provide the latest public health guidance to consumers, Dashers and merchants and remind our community in affected areas of the delivery instruction feature, enabling requests for food to be left at the door along with a photo of where the food should be left through the app,” in a statement to The Los Angeles Times. The company also told The Los Angeles Times on Friday that it planned to talk with Warner that day.

Instacart said it remains fully operational across North America in a statement provided to The Verge. It also said it’s “actively working with local and national authorities to monitor the situation as it unfolds. We’re adhering to recommendations from public health officials to ensure we’re operating safely with minimal disruption to our service, while also taking the appropriate precautionary measures to keep teams, shoppers and customers safe.” The company said it’s sharing health and safety information with its shoppers.

Instacart also tells The Verge that it lets in-store shoppers in select markets accrue sick pay. They can earn one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of sick pay per year.

Update, March 7th, 10:05AM ET: Added with new information from Uber and Instacart.

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