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DoorDash couriers struggle to secure COVID sick pay, get back to work during Omicron surge

NEW YORK : A COVID-assistance coverage at DoorDash Inc is irritating some couriers who instructed Reuters the food-delivery firm sidelined them for so long as a month whereas infections brought on by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus flared, costing them a lot wanted revenue.

DoorDash rolled out its COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program in March 2020, providing a driver who exams optimistic for COVID, or whose housemate exams optimistic, a one-time cost equal to their common earnings over the earlier two weeks.

“Upon submitting a claim for health-related COVID-19 financial assistance, your Dasher account will be suspended to protect the DoorDash community,” DoorDash stated in a March 12, 2020 e-mail to its drivers asserting this system.

But six DoorDash couriers instructed Reuters that during the current Omicron surge, DoorDash delayed making the help funds and suspended drivers’ DoorDash accounts for extended intervals, exacerbating the monetary pressure on gig staff who ship meals for a dwelling.

When Cincinnati-based Doordash driver Josh Murphy notified the corporate about his roommate’s optimistic COVID-19 take a look at end result on Dec. 21, DoorDash instantly deactivated Murphy’s account for over three weeks – properly past his 10-day quarantine interval.

Murphy stated he missed work for 17 days that he would usually be out delivering. He did finally obtain a examine for $622 – however he estimates the extended account deactivation amounted to a $1,000 web loss, even after the cost.

“I regret asking for the assistance, even though I needed it to pay rent,” Murphy stated.

A spokesperson for San Francisco-based DoorDash stated usually medically-cleared drivers, often known as Dashers, are ready to get back on-line inside 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 stated.

DoorDash has devoted particular workforce members to course of requests for monetary help and reactivations after Dashers are medically cleared. The firm has added extra workforce members to that group for the reason that begin of the pandemic, she famous, including that vital delays usually are not widespread.

DoorDash declined to specify the variety of couriers who’ve requested monetary help for the reason that begin of the pandemic. DoorDash counted almost 3 million individuals who offered companies, or “Dashed,” during the third quarter, incomes over $2.8 billion for drivers. The firm experiences fourth-quarter outcomes on Feb. 16.

‘MY ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME’

Getting monetary help or paid sick depart for a COVID-related absence is particularly exhausting for gig staff who lack worker advantages.

Uber Technologies discontinued its COVID monetary help coverage for drivers in August of 2021. Lyft, Grubhub, and Instacart nonetheless present COVID sick pay and, like DoorDash, quickly droop staff’ accounts after they request monetary help, in accordance to firm spokespeople.

“Nobody forces (gig economy companies) to support the workers, because we’re not employees,” stated Gustavo Ajche, a DoorDash courier in New York City and member of labor group Los Deliveristas Unidos.

App-based supply firms deal with couriers as unbiased contractors. DoorDash agreed in November to pay greater than $5 million to settle an investigation by San Francisco into alleged labor regulation violations. The metropolis alleged DoorDash was violating its healthcare profit and paid sick depart legal guidelines by misclassifying staff as unbiased contractors, somewhat than workers.

Complaints amongst DoorDash couriers about account suspensions and delays elevated in late 2021 with the rise of Omicron, in accordance to social media posts.

Chris Lewis, of Long Beach, California, requested COVID monetary help on Jan. 4. Emails seen by Reuters present he didn’t obtain a response from the corporate asking him to confirm his optimistic COVID take a look at till Jan 18.

Lewis, who has already recovered from COVID, lastly came upon he’s eligible for monetary help on Jan. 28.

Allie, a DoorDash driver within the Minneapolis suburbs, submitted a request to the corporate for COVID monetary help when she examined optimistic simply earlier than Christmas. Her DoorDash account has been suspended for over 4 weeks, and she or he has but to obtain any sick pay, which she estimates quantities to $2,000 in misplaced revenue.

“I do not wish to proceed with the financial assistance,” she wrote in an e-mail to DoorDash’s assist workforce on Jan. 14, “as I am losing more money by not dashing and this is my only source of income.”

(Reporting by Danielle Kaye; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Bill Berkrot)

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