DoorDash couriers struggle to secure COVID sick pay, get back to work during Omicron surge -Breaking
© Reuters. DoorDash driver Chris Lewis poses alongside his car in Long Beach California. U.S. Jan 31, 2022. Photograph taken January 31, 2022. REUTERS/David Swanson
By Danielle Kaye
NEW YORK (Reuters – DoorDash Inc has a COVID assistance policy that frustrates some couriers. According to Reuters, the company left them out for as much as a month because of Omicron coronavirus infections. It cost them a lot of income.
DoorDash launched its COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program March 2020. It offers drivers who test positive for COVID or their housemates who test positive, one-time payments equal to the average weekly earnings.
DoorDash announced the new program in an email sent to drivers on March 12, 2020, stating that after submitting a claim to health-related COVID-19 financial aid, your Dasher account would be frozen to protect DoorDash’s community.
Six DoorDash couriers, however, told Reuters that DoorDash deferred making assistance payments to drivers during Omicron surge and suspended drivers’ DoorDash account for extended periods. This further increased financial pressure on gig workers who provide food for a living.
When Cincinnati-based Doordash driver Josh Murphy notified the company about his roommate’s positive COVID-19 test result on Dec. 21, DoorDash immediately deactivated Murphy’s account for over three weeks – well beyond his 10-day quarantine period.
Murphy claimed that Murphy missed 17 days of work when he was normally out delivering. He did eventually receive a check for $622 – but he estimates the prolonged account deactivation amounted to a $1,000 net loss, even after the payment.
Murphy admitted that Murphy regretted asking Murphy for financial assistance.
DoorDash, a San Francisco company, stated that most medically cleared drivers (known as Dashers) are capable of getting back online in 24 hours.
“When a Dasher submits a qualifying claim, our team works quickly to process their two weeks’ of earning replacement and suspend their Dasher account to protect the DoorDash community,” she said.
DoorDash has designated a team member to handle financial assistance requests and activate accounts after Dashers have been medically cleared. She noted that the company had added to this team since the outbreak of the pandemic. However, significant delays were not common.
DoorDash refused to give details about the number of couriers that have applied for financial aid since the outbreak. DoorDash surveyed nearly 3,000,000 people, known as “Dashed,” who performed services during the third-quarter, which saw drivers earn over $2.8B. It reports its fourth-quarter results February 16.
“MY ONLY SOURCE of INCOME”
It is particularly difficult for gig workers, who aren’t covered by employee benefits to receive financial assistance and sick leave due to COVID.
Uber Technologies (NYSE) has ended the COVID driver assistance policy in August 2021. Lyft According to spokespeople for the companies, Instacart, Grubhub and NASDAQ still offer COVID sick leave and temporarily suspend employees’ accounts when they ask financial assistance.
Gustavo Ajche (a DoorDash courier in New York City) said that “Nobody forc[es] gig economy companies to support workers because they’re not employees.” He is also a member of the labor organisation Los Deliveristas Unidos.
The app-based courier companies consider the couriers to be independent contractors. DoorDash paid more than $5M to San Francisco in November for an settlement of its labor-law violations investigation. DoorDash, according to the city, was accused of violating San Francisco’s healthcare and paid sick leave laws. It misclassified workers as employees rather than independent contractors.
Social media reports show that complaints about delays and account suspensions by DoorDash couriers increased with Omicron’s emergence in 2021.
Chris Lewis of Long Beach (California) requested financial aid for COVID on January 4. Emails from Reuters reveal that he didn’t receive a reply asking for verification of his COVID positive test, but that he received one on Jan. 18.
Lewis, who is already recovering from COVID has finally discovered that he can be eligible for financial help on January 28.
Allie was a DoorDash driver from the Minneapolis suburbs. She submitted a request for financial COVID assistance to the company when she became positive right before Christmas. Over four weeks her DoorDash account has been closed and she hasn’t received any sick pay. She estimates that she lost $2,000 of income.
She wrote an email to DoorDash support on Jan. 14: “I don’t wish to continue with the financial aid,” “as it is losing more money to not dashing, and this my only source income.”