Sen. Warner Calls on Gig Worker Platform Companies to Offer Flexibility in the Event of Coronavirus Outbreak
Mar 06 2020
WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner urged leading gig worker platform companies to commit that independent contractors who deliver their services will not be penalized for following recommended health procedures to protect the public from further spread of the coronavirus.
In letters sent to the CEOs of Uber, Postmates, Lyft, Instacart, Grubhub, and DoorDash, some of the leading U.S. gig worker platform companies, Sen. Warner wrote, “As the United States mobilizes to respond to the recent outbreak and spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, I write to urge you to publicly commit to prioritizing your workers’ economic security and the broader public health during this response.”
He continued, “I strongly urge that you attempt to address the potential financial hardship for your workers if they are sick or have to self-quarantine during this time. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that platform companies lead by example by committing that economic uncertainty will not be deterrents to their workers following public health guidance during the response.”
In the letters, Sen. Warner acknowledged efforts by some platform companies to provide guidance to workers about how to protect themselves and customers against the spread of coronavirus. However, as the Washington Post recently wrote, gig workers – and contingent workers more broadly – are among the most vulnerable workers to a potential spread of the coronavirus. Because they are classified by platform companies as independent contractors, many gig workers do not have access to paid leave, employer-provided health insurance, and other benefits. As a result, many of these workers risk missing income or paying high out-of-pocket healthcare costs if they fully comply with public health instructions to be tested, self-quarantine, or take other “social distancing” measures.
Yesterday, Sen. Warner led a group of 14 Senators in urging major U.S. employers to commit that workers will not be penalized for following recommended health procedures to protect the public from further spread of the coronavirus. He also joined with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in sending a similar letter to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
This morning, the President signed a bipartisan $7.8 billion emergency coronavirus response funding bill that Sen. Warner voted for in the Senate. The legislation also includes language based on Sen. Warner’s CONNECT for Health Act of 2019, which reduces restrictions on the use of telehealth for public health emergency response, as well as $500 million to facilitate its implementation.