- Uber has encouraged its US, Canada, Japan, Europe, and South Korea-based employees to work remotely through April 6 to limit the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, as first reported by The New York Times reporter Mike Isaac and confirmed to Business Insider.
- Uber had nearly 27,000 employees globally as of last December, with around 16,000 located outside the US, according to its latest annual earnings filing.
- The guidance does not apply to drivers and delivery workers, who Uber considers independent contractors.
- After facing criticism from lawmakers over its initial response, Uber announced that it would compensate drivers and delivery workers who are diagnosed with coronavirus or placed in mandatory quarantine.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Uber has strongly recommended that employees based in the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, or South Korea work from home through April 6 to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.
The guidance, emailed to employees by Uber’s global head of operations, Andrew Macdonald, was first reported Wednesday by The New York Times reporter Mike Isaac and confirmed to Business Insider by an Uber spokesperson.
Uber had around 26,900 employees worldwide as of the end of 2019, including 16,200 outside the US, according to the company’s latest 10-K SEC filing.
“It’s not lost on us that many of our employees can’t work from home due to the nature of their roles. Their work requires access to on-premises tools or in-person support for drivers and delivery people,” Macdonald’s email read, adding that Uber would communicate individually with those employees and others who “have used up their sick leave or aren’t comfortable coming into the office.”
Uber is also introducing temperature checks and additional cleaning measures at certain locations, according to the email.
The guidance doesn’t apply to Uber drivers and delivery workers, who the company considers independent contractors. After Business Insider reported in late February that drivers had not heard from Uber about COVID-19, the company issued guidance instructing drivers to stay home if they felt sick.
However, critics said that ignored the fact that, unlike salaried employees, staying home would affect their income. After Sen. Mark Warner sent Uber a letter calling on it to do more, the company said last Friday that it would compensate drivers who are diagnosed with the coronavirus or placed in mandatory quarantine.
Uber’s remote work policy places it in line with other major companies including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft who have advised or mandated that employees work from home in an effort to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Read Macdonald’s full email below (with emphasis his):
TL;DR: We are updating our guidance to strongly recommend that all employees in certain countries, and in roles where it is feasible, work from home until Monday, April 6.
Based on the latest advice of our consulting epidemiologist and stronger guidance from public health authorities, we are updating our work from home (WFH) policy:
We now strongly recommend WFH in the US, Canada, all European countries, Japan, and South Korea for employees whose roles allow for it. This applies until the morning of Monday, April 6, unless we share additional information before then.
Employees in other locations and in job functions that can be done remotely may continue to WFH if they choose. We are monitoring in real-time, and if we change our guidance for other offices, we will update you.
Our decision is based on the increasing community spread of COVID-19 cases in this group of countries. While we don’t have any confirmed cases among employees, we believe it’s our responsibility to follow the latest guidance from authorities and to help slow community spread so that health care systems can cope. One way to do that is to reduce the number of people working closely together for extended periods of time. Many of you have already opted to work from home, but we’re at the point where we believe we must do more to help flatten the curve of community spread in these countries right now.
Please use the next day or so to gather anything you might need to WFH. After that, we strongly recommend not coming into the office. Offices will still be accessible, but there will be reduced services in most of them (e.g. no meal service or snacks/supplies being restocked). We will work with the People team to support our facilities staff during this period of reduced work.
It’s not lost on us that many of our employees can’t work from home due to the nature of their roles. Their work requires access to on-premises tools or in-person support for drivers and delivery people. By asking some employees to not come into the office, our goal is reduce density and risk for everyone else. We will be communicating separately to employees whose roles don’t allow WFH with additional guidance.
We’re redoubling our efforts to support those who cannot WFH: we’re working to introduce temperature checks at some locations, where advised; increasing cleaning and wiping common surfaces like door handles; and setting up more hand sanitizer stations and distributing disinfectant wipes. On an individual basis, we are accommodating employees who have used up their sick leave or aren’t comfortable coming into the office, and we’re developing plans that could enable some employees in these roles to temporarily WFH in emergency situations.
We will keep evaluating our policies and seeking outside expert advice on a daily basis, and come back to you in real time with any new guidance.
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