To help gig workers make ends meet during these times of job insecurity amid COVID-19, New York City is offering gig workers who are licensed with the TLC to help with delivery work.
While the demand for drivers is currently small, NYC says it expects demand to increase for meal delivery to senior citizens and other residents who need to stay home. The jobs pay $15 per hour, as well as reimbursement for gas mileage and tolls. By law, in New York City, Uber, Lyft and Via drivers make a minimum of $27.86 per hour, with an allocation for expenses. After you account for those expenses, it comes out to about $17.22 an hour*
"The World is changing around us and many of you are without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," the TLC wrote in an email to licensees today. "You are a top priority for the TLC and we recognize that you are among the hardest hit by this public health crisis. As we look at all possible ways to help you and as we assess needs citywide, we ask for your assistance and participation in the City’s response."
Those interested can head over to www.nyc.gov/DeliveryTLC to learn more and sign up. Jobs will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"New York City's for-hire vehicle drivers have seen their earnings plummet amid this pandemic. Drivers are ready to step up to help the city in this time of great need," Independent Drivers Guild Executive Director Brendan Sexton said in a statement. "We are thankful that the city sees the value in this workforce and appreciate the Commissioner's hard work to make DeliveryTLC a reality."
Last week, both Uber and Lyft suspended their carpooling services in the U.S. in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus. And just three days ago, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all non-essential retailers and businesses to close.
Meanwhile, there have been reports that demand has generally been on the decline in light of growing concerns about the virus. Lyft, for example, says it has seen a decline in demand and has consequently expanded its services to include delivery and partnerships with nonprofit organizations, the healthcare industry and the government. Uber, on the other hand, has said demand for ride-hailing services has dropped as much as 70% in the cities most impacted by the coronavirus.
Earlier today, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent a letter to the White House, asking that gig workers get protection and financial support in the COVID-19 stimulus packages. In that same letter, Khosrowshahi argued that there needs to be a third employment classification for gig workers that "would update our labor laws to remove the forced choice between flexibility and protection for millions of American workers."
Over in California, where gig worker protections bill AB 5 became law earlier this year, a group of gig workers are pushing for legislators to fully enforce the new law. That would help to ensure gig workers have access to paid sick leave, disability insurance, family leave and unemployment.
*This story has been updated to reflect hourly wages of rideshare drivers in New York City.