Read The Room

Uber Tells Drivers to Stay Home If They Have the Coronavirus

The company doesn't provide sick days or even consider drivers employees.

3. 2. 20 / Dan Robitzski
Uber/Victor Tangermann
Image by Uber/Victor Tangermann

Uber is warning all its drivers to stay home if they have symptoms of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.

On Friday, the company sent a memo of recommendations like frequently washing hands and covering sneezes as well as encouraging drivers to turn away passengers who make them feel unsafe, according to Business Insider.

But Uber’s advice struck drivers as tone-deaf: the company advised drivers to stay home if they start experiencing coronavirus symptoms like fever or respiratory trouble. That’s solid workplace advice from a public health standpoint, but it also assumes that sick workers can afford to stay home until they’re feeling better.

It’s worth noting that Uber doesn’t offer drivers sick leave. In fact, it doesn’t consider them employees at all. So like other gig economy workers, if a driver stops taking passengers, they also stop making money. In that light, the company urging its contractors to stay home doesn’t reflect the realities of life without a steady income.

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It’s a troubling disconnect. Nipping an outbreak in the bud could at least partially come down to the public’s everyday behavior, but many don’t have the resources to simply stop working when they’re not feeling 100 percent.


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