DoorDash signs agreement with transport union to protect deliverers during COVID-19

DoorDash drivers and riders will be given financial assistance if they're tested positive to COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Food delivery platform DoorDash and Transport Workers' Union have signed an agreement aimed at providing support to delivery workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the agreement, DoorDash will provide financial assistance to Australian delivery workers who have tested positive to COVID-19, have been instructed to self-isolate, or are at high risk if they contract the virus.

Additionally, DoorDash has agreed to provide masks, hand sanitiser, and gloves to delivery riders and drivers, while also defaulting all deliveries to "no contact".  

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the agreement is a first step to protecting gig economy workers.

"Food delivery workers are essential frontline workers who allow businesses to stay open and people to eat safely while under lock-down," he said.

"These workers need protections to keep them safe and they need to be paid when they can't work due to COVID-19. In too many cases these protections are absent. We are pleased that DoorDash is at the forefront of changing the status quo and is working with us to stand with workers on virus protections."

Both organisations took the opportunity also to encourage other gig economy companies to implement similar protections for its workers.

The pair added there would be ongoing discussions that look at how further protections could be provided to DoorDash riders and drivers, including insurance to cover riders and drivers injured on the job.

"It's incumbent upon us to support Dashers as they work to serve others, and we will continue to help protect these frontline workers while we remain committed to providing economic opportunities in the safest way possible," DoorDash CEO Tony Xu.

"We hope this meaningful agreement encourages other companies to take similar steps forward to protect workers and prioritise the wellbeing of our communities."

The Victorian government's inquiry into the gig economy published a report earlier this month that urged the federal government, together with state governments and other key stakeholders, to take initiative and apply national consistency across the country's workplace systems for gig economy workers.

It was one of 20 total recommendations put forward by the inquiry after it uncovered how platforms have been deliberate in framing their arrangements with workers to avoid complying with workplace laws and paying associated costs. 

The inquiry was launched back in September 2018 to specifically examine the treatment of workers and how they are remunerated. It was chaired by former Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.

Last month, research commissioned by the Victorian government revealed that more than 30% of respondents -- who were gig economy workers -- did not know whether their platform had a dispute resolution process, while nearly half of the surveyed gig economy workers reported that their platform did not provide work-related insurance.

The Digital Platform Work in Australia: Prevalence, Nature and Impact report [PDF] also revealed the five most common platforms used by Australians to undertake work have been Airtasker, Uber, Freelancer, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo.

Meanwhile, the Queensland government in April announced it had held meetings with "key stakeholders" to address the delivery fees that food delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats have been charging local cafe and restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

Deliveroo then announced at the start of May it would remove the commission fee for pick-up orders and drop its commission rate to 5% where restaurants provide their own delivery to help local businesses that have been impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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