As of press time the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has prompted several states to issue shelter in place orders. Americans are urged to not leave their homes except for obtaining essential items like food and medicine. This edict deeply affects Americans with employment deemed non essential, as they are forced to work from home if their employer permits this option. Those without that option are faced with layoffs or furloughs.
Examples of essential workers are those working in the medical field, law enforcement, commercial truck drivers, grocery store employees, and food service employees (dine in or fast food). The question is, are rideshare drivers considered essential? The goods and services the aforementioned industries provide for us are especially essential and appreciated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rideshare drivers provide an equally essential service. They provide transportation for many medical and food service professionals that aren’t driving for various reasons. Public transportation is a more viable option in larger cities, as subway trains and buses are on a tighter pickup schedule and are cheaper than ridesharing. But using ridesharing services saves passengers an inordinate amount of time because there are no other stops made by the driver.
Providing safe and timely service for all passengers should be a given for rideshare operators. Getting medical professionals like doctors and nurses to their hospitals safely and in a timely matter is of the utmost importance now, as they have enough to worry about during this life or death pandemic.
While deeming rideshare operators essential employees sounds practical, that determination can only be made by each state’s governor. Rideshare operators are also independent contractors that make their own hours and decide on their own whether or not to work. State governors should strongly consider deeming rideshare operators essential to what we now know as the new normal.