While some gig economy companies have already taken steps to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among its workers, Sen. Mark Warner (VA) is encouraging them to go further and consider ensuring workers don’t face financial consequences as a result of the virus.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
In separate letters to Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates, Grubhub and DoorDash, Sen. Warner laid out a couple of ideas. The first entails creating a special coronavirus health fund that would be available to gig workers if they need to take time off to get tested or self-quarantine. The other idea is to pay workers their regular average pay, even if they can’t work their normal average hours.
“A health emergency for which they bear no responsibility should not place an undue financial burden on workers and their families,” he wrote.
In a statement, a Lyft spokesperson said the company appreciates Sen. Warner’s leadership.
“We are focused on taking appropriate actions and are actively planning for multiple scenarios,” the Lyft spokesperson said. “We stand ready to coordinate with government officials.”
Companies like Microsoft and Facebook have been proactive in this regard. Microsoft, for example, has committed to paying hourly workers their regular wages even if they are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 concerns. Facebook, shortly after Microsoft’s announcement, committed to paying its contingent workers who cannot work during this time of concern.