Like other global multi-national corporations, Uber is trying to tackle the impact of the novel coronavirus. According to various news outlets, Uber may temporarily suspend the drivers who are found to have contracted coronavirus or been exposed to it.
The drivers working for Uber are skeptical of the latest developments. The drivers working in the gig-economy are hired as contractors and not as employees. This makes them vulnerable under ordinary circumstances. They don’t get sick pay and other rights available to full-time employees.
And with the threat of coronavirus on the rise, their livelihood is at stake. Uber has announced that it would provide “financial assistance” to suspended drivers for 2 weeks but hasn’t given a detailed account of the steps it would take.
Amongst other steps, Uber has been supplying disinfectant to drivers to keep their vehicles clean. How effective would this step be in a discussion for another day? Many drivers continue to work despite ill-health out of necessity and most don’t go to the doctors until extremely ill. This is because of the high medical costs in the US.
Most of these drivers either don’t have medical insurance or have a partial one. Lawmakers have been pushing Uber, Ola, and Lyft to offer basics like sick pay and other welfare rights for coronavirus affected drivers.
Despite the announcement, the drivers feel worried about whether the company will follow up on its word.