Uber/Lyft drivers and the coronavirus

Photographed outside his house on March 6 in Washington state, Derek Kaye is an Uber/Lyft driver who came down with a sickness with symptoms akin to COVID-19. He has been trying to get tested for coronavirus but has been told he does not qualify. The ride-sharing businesses are now offering drivers up to 14 days of paid sick leave if they test positive for the virus are are quarantined.

Uber and Lyft have said they will begin offering their drivers up to 14 days of paid sick leave if they come down with coronavirus, or are quarantined because of the illness.

Andrew MacDonald, Uber’s senior vice president of rides and platform, said the ride-hailing leader is working to implement the paid sick leave policy for all of its drivers worldwide. MacDonald said drivers will be eligible for sick leave pay when they provide proper documentation of being diagnosed with coronavirus, placed into quarantine, asked to self isolate, or have been taken off Uber’s drivers’ app for 14 days at the direction of a public health organization.

“We are supporting drivers and delivery people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 (coronavirus) or placed in quarantine by a public health authority,” MacDonald said, in a statement on Uber’s paid sick leave policy. “We believe this is the right thing to do.”

Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna echoed Uber’s position in a statement provided to this news organization.

“We will provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19, or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency,” LaManna said.

Neither Uber nor Lyft provided any details about how they would determine compensation amounts for any drivers who take sick leave due to coronavirus. Uber said it has no received no reports about coronavirus being spread from one of its drivers to a rider, while Lyft had no further comment on the matter.

Uber, Lyft, and other so-called gig-economy companies such as its ride-hailing rival had come under criticism for not offering drivers paid leave for any matters, including illnesses such as coronavirus.

Despite Uber and Lyft offering the paid sick leave to any drivers infected with coronavirus, not everyone was quick to praise the companies for their actions.

Officials with Gig Workers Rising, an activist group which advocates for worker protections and benefits, said Uber and Lyft still have much more to do to when it comes to providing for their drivers at during non-emergency situations like the coronavirus situation.

“A fund to cover those who have been quarantined does nothing for the thousands of drivers who may show symptoms but chose not to stay home for fear of missing a paycheck and falling behind on rent,” GWR said in a statement. “Workers do not need health care and paid time off only during a pandemic — they deserve these rights at all times, in order to ensure that their health is not dependent on a company’s whim.”