Mobility Companies React to COVID-19

Tech companies have been forced to respond to the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic. While tech giants like Amazon and Google have sent their employees to work from home, some companies have made more drastic changes to their business.  Rideshare giant Uber has decided to expand its sick leave pay to drivers diagnosed with the virus while remaining operational in affected areas.  Meanwhile, e-scooter provider Lime is pulling its scooters from California and Washington.

Uber has announced that it is expanding sick pay during the pandemic. Drivers who contract COVID-19 and are quarantined “or is individually asked to self‑isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold.” This expands on an earlier policy, under which only those who tested positive for the new coronavirus or were required to be quarantined would receive pay for sick leave. Uber will pay drivers the average amount they earned daily during the last six months per day of sick leave. Drivers must have completed at least one trip in the last 30 days before March 6. Drivers have up to 30 days after diagnosis or quarantine to file a sick pay claim for up to 14 days of compensation. Uber previously said it would consider suspending rider and driver accounts if they caught COVID-19 or were in contact with the virus.

Uber drivers and other “ride-hailing drivers are amongst the most at risk as the virus spreads, both because of the social nature of their jobs and because they don’t qualify for traditional employee benefits as independent contractors.” The pandemic may have lasting consequences for Uber, not only on its workforce, which could be exposed to the virus, but also a reduction in demand as widespread teleworking, social distancing, and travel restrictions take hold.

Uber’s competitor Lyft said it would also compensate drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 or were quarantined. Uber and Lyft have also ended shared rides, which allowed riders to carpool with another rider for a reduced fare.

Meanwhile, Lime is temporarily pulling its scooter fleet service in California, Washington, Italy, France, and Spain. This move comes after San Francisco issued a “shelter in place” to ban unnecessary travel “on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit.” Lime suspended its scooters in other places severely affected by the pandemic.

“Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground,” Brad Bao, CEO of Lime said.  “Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe.”

Other scooter companies have not suspended their fleets, stating they have yet to make a decision but were keeping an eye on developments. All scooter companies have stated that they “have stepped up their cleaning procedures and are advising customers to protect themselves by wearing gloves while riding.”