- The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and DoorDash entered into a public-private partnership to expand financial, health and childcare-related support to DoorDash and Caviar gig workers, according to a press release.
- The expanded benefits include financial assistance for Dashers who have tested positive or have been diagnosed with a probable COVID-19 case, who are at higher risk or who live with someone who meets this criteria; subsidized telehealth access for appointments related to COVID-19; and financial assistance for top Dashers who have primary childcare responsibilities for children whose schools and daycares that have closed.
- "I commend the team at DoorDash for its strong leadership in setting a new standard, which I hope will inspire others to act,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. "We need other gig economy companies to step up and prioritize the health and safety of workers — especially those on the front lines still making deliveries and interacting with the public during the COVID-19 emergency."
Shapiro has long advocated for gig workers’ rights, noting on his official website that "over half a million Pennsylvanians are improperly classified as independent contractors rather than employees, denying them overtime and important rights and benefits like workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance."
This problem, he adds, is growing as more residents take on jobs in the gig economy. The issue is also compounded by the economic impact of COVID-19, in which millions of workers in the restaurant industry and gig economy have lost their jobs.
No doubt the coronavirus crisis has brought to light some of the underlying issues about contractual workers who are typically not provided benefits like insurance or sick days. Since the outbreak, major delivery companies have added benefits for employees. Uber Eats, for example, launched a portal to help its drivers find more work opportunities if they’ve lost a job due to the crisis. The company is also providing financial assistance for drivers who have been diagnosed with the virus.
Postmates launched a relief fund to cover medical expenses for its drivers, regardless of diagnosis. The company said it is designed for those who seek preventative care, checkups, testing and medical expenses. Postmates and Grubhub are providing two weeks of sick pay and medical expenses and lost income to drivers impacted by COVID-19. Grubhub also launched a community fund aimed at providing relief for delivery partners.
DoorDash’s latest benefits do go a bit further, but that doesn’t mean Shapiro’s wish of them "inspiring others to act"will come easily. For starters, these measures have been put into place "during the COVID-19 emergency." It's unclear what will happen when the pandemic begins to fade.
Plenty of efforts were made pre-coronavirus to get delivery companies to do more for their employees. California passed AB5 in September, for example, making it harder for employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors and therefore providing them with benefits like overtime pay and unemployment benefits. New York entered this debate in October. All of it has been patchwork.
But delivery companies have proven they’re willing to invest in a fight, with Uber, DoorDash and others vowing to spend $90 million to counteract California’s AB5. Uber has even gone so far as to push for a new classification that is neither "employee" or "contractor," and has asked lawmakers to shield the company from lawsuits during the pandemic.