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PANDEMIC PROTECTIONS

How different delivery companies are treating workers during coronavirus

Reuters/ Kim Kyung Hoon
Taiga Fukutani, a comedian whose entertainment bookings dried up following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, works as an Uber Eats delivery man in Tokyo, Japan April 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon – RC2O5G9DOT9Q
  • Olivia Goldhill
By Olivia Goldhill

Science reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The coronavirus pandemic has made delivery workers essential. Major companies worldwide now face unprecedented public pressure to provide adequate benefits to these workers, who prior to the pandemic were frequently treated as expendable.

Coronavirus has made sick pay a standard feature, even in the gig economy. But there are plenty of caveats. For example, a company that provides sick pay to workers diagnosed with coronavirus or told to quarantine by a public health body is of little use in countries where tests and public health bodies are hard to access. Quartz contacted several major companies worldwide to ask about their current benefit offerings. Here are their responses as of publication time.

Doordash

Where the company operates
US, Canada, Australia

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Distributing 5 million consumer-grade face masks plus hand sanitizer, gloves, and wipes.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
Workers report being charged $10 to $40 to have these supplies delivered.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No

Company sick leave policy
Workers receive average earnings for two weeks if they’ve completed 30 deliveries in the past 30 days, and have been active on the DoorDash platform for at least 60 days. To qualify, workers must have tested positive for Covid-19 (with medical documentation) or be are at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19 or be under a mandatory Covid-19-related quarantine (with medical documentation) or be under a doctor-recommended Covid-19-related quarantine (with medical documentation).

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
Some workers say they’ve been denied sick pay, even with a note from their doctor.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
Workers get two weeks average earnings if they are a (proven) housemate of someone who fulfills the criteria for Doordash sick pay.

Deliveroo

Where the company operates
UK, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Kuwait

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Providing masks and hand sanitizer all to riders.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
The UK union requested hand sanitizer and face masks in March.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No

Company sick leave policy
Workers get financial support if diagnosed with coronavirus or asked to quarantine by a public health authority or are under a doctor-recommended quarantine.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
Workers say the financial support fund is inaccessible, as NHS doctors aren’t issuing the documentation required for Deliveroo when they recommend quarantine.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No

Ocado

Where the company operates
UK

Company policy on providing protective equipment
It has increased supply of hand soap, sanitizing gel, and antibacterial wipes and spray, and is providing temperature checks. Ocado notes UK guidelines only recommend masks for symptomatic people.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
Some workers say they’re worried about the lack of protective equipment, such as gloves and masks.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
Drivers, personal shoppers, and others working on the frontline of food delivery get a 10% bonus on basic pay from March 23 while the crisis is ongoing.

Company sick leave policy
Those directly affected by COVID-19 and unable to work receive sick pay.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
Some workers say they’ve been denied sick leave.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
Unpaid leave if relatives are in hospital with coronavirus, and paid leave for employees who have to stay at home to protect a vulnerable relative.

Amazon

Where the company operates
US, UK, France, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Japan, China, India, Mexico

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Ordered millions of masks, which are now available for workers.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
Complaints of poor safety conditions and Amazon firing workers who speak out.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
An increase of $2 per hour, bringing the minimum wage for employees in the US to $17.

Company sick leave policy
Two weeks of pay if diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed into quarantine by the government or Amazon.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
Some workers say the guidance on documentation needed for sick pay is hazy, making it prohibitively difficult to access the funds.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No

Fresh Direct

Where the company operates
US

Company policy on providing protective equipment
The company did not respond to any of Quartz’s questions, or point out any policies regarding employee sick leave, safety supplies for workers, or other protective measures. “We will circle back if we’re able to connect,” a PR representative wrote.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
No public response.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No comment.

Company sick leave policy
No comment.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
No public response.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No comment.

Zomato

Where the company operates
India, Australia, and United States

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Provided masks to workers.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
No public response.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No

Company sick leave policy
Insurance covers lost earnings for workers infected with coronavirus.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
No public response

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No

Meituan

Where the company operates
China

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Rider stations offer thermometers, face masks, disinfectant, and alcohol gels. Riders have their body temperature taken multiple times a day.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
No public response.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No

Company sick leave policy
Meituan Waimai is offering medical insurance payments of up to RMB 300,000 ($42,373) to help its riders who might have to seek medical treatment because of the virus outbreak.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
No public response

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
The company extended the medical insurance plan to cover family members of workers, offering medical insurance payments of up to RMB100,000 ($14,124).

Uber

Where the company operates
More than 60 countries globally

Company policy on providing protective equipment
In the process of distributing health and safety equipment.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
No public response.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No

Company sick leave policy
Two weeks pay, calculated based on typical earnings, if diagnosed with coronavirus or asked to quarantine by public health authority.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
Coronavirus tests are hard to come by, making it difficult to access sick pay.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No

Instacart

Where the company operates
US and Canada

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Workers can order free face masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers from an Instacart website.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
Some workers say they still don’t have protective gear.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
More frequent “promotions”—higher wages for deliveries based on region & customer demand—during coronavirus. Plus $25 to $150 bonuses determined based on the number of hours worked from March 15 through April 15.

Company sick leave policy
Two weeks pay if diagnosed with coronavirus or asked to quarantine by a public health authority. Workers also earn one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year, as standard sick pay.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
Coronavirus tests are hard to come by, making it difficult to access sick pay.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No

Grubhub

Where the company operates
US and London

Company policy on providing protective equipment
Free hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves from online store for drivers.

Worker response (if any) on protective equipment available
No public response.

Has it increased pay given the risk?
No

Company sick leave policy
Two weeks of support pay to cover medical expenses and loss of income for those diagnosed with Covid-19, placed in an individual quarantine by a public health authority or licensed medical provider, or if their Grubhub for Drivers account is restricted as a result of information provided by a public health authority.

Worker response (if any) on sick leave policy
No public response.

Company policy for sick relatives of workers
No