Uber sent drivers guidance about coronavirus that some say ignores the realities of the gig economy


Uber Drivers Coronavirus

  • On Friday evening, ridesharing company Uber sent drivers a memo offering guidance to workers as the novel coronavirus spreads across the world and the US.
  • The memo, titled “A reminder about coronavirus,” offered four points of advice to contractors who come into contact with numerous passengers every day: If you feel sick, stay home; wash your hands frequently; cover your cough or sneeze; clean and disinfect.
  • The guidance follows reporting from Business Insider Friday morning that said drivers were avoiding picking up passengers from airports over coronavirus fears, and that they hadn’t received any guidance from the company.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As fear over the global spread of novel coronavirus reached a fever pitch Friday, Uber blasted out a long-awaited memo offering their contractors guidance.

Given the ongoing global concern regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), we’d like to remind everyone to take the recommended steps to stay safe and healthy. 

We are working closely with public health authorities to pass along the most up-to-date guidance on how to protect yourself and others. We encourage you to follow this guidance, such as:

  • If you feel sick, stay home. If you have mild illness, respiratory symptoms, or have a fever (38C/100.4 F or above), stay home and away from others. If your symptoms get worse, call your doctor.
  • Wash your hand frequently. Wash your hands with liquid soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or us an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to disinfect your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hand. If you don’t have a tissue within easy reach, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your vehicle.

As has always been the case, if you feel uncomfortable picking up up a passenger for safety reasons, you can choose not to accept or cancel the trip. However, it is absolutely against Uber’s Community Guidelines to discriminate against anyone based on thir race or national origin.

For more information, please refer to the CDC website.

We will continue to monitor developments closely and will keep you updated.

The memo, posted to social media and confirmed by one New York driver, followed a Friday morning Business Insider report in which workers said they hadn’t received any official communication from the company about COVID-19 and had begun using speculative prevention methods like not doing airport pickups or cracking windows.

While the recommendations mirror standard guidance issued by public health officials such as the World Health Organization, some drivers have complained aspects of the memo are tone-deaf coming from the notorious gig-economy giant.

In particular, Twitter users pointed out the “If you feel sick, stay home” recommendation, noting that in nearly the entire US, Uber doesn’t provide sick leave or standard benefits to drivers since they’re nearly all contractors. 

On r/uberdrivers, a subreddit for Uber drivers, one poster commented on the particular section sarcastically saying, “Your landlord and other monthly bills will surely understand.”

The other section of the memo that could raise eyebrows is portion addressing avoiding certain rides or passengers. The section seemingly addresses tactics employed by numerous Uber drivers to attempt to decrease the likelihood of getting sick. Some fall within Uber’s guidance, like avoiding airports, but other reported incidents that have included racism from drivers fall outside of Uber’s policies. 

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