DoorDash has entered into a public-private partnership with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General to further expand financial, healthcare, and childcare assistance to couriers (called “Dashers”) working for the third-party delivery service. DoorDash said in a company press release that this expanded support applies Dashers in Pennsylvania working for its service as well as DoorDash subsidiary Caviar.
Most of the initiatives announced build on existing support DoorDash has provided to Dashers throughout most of the pandemic. For those diagnosed with COVID-19 or/or instructed to self-quarantine because of the virus, DoorDash is providing financial assistance, applicable to those that have worked for the service for 30 days (the number was previously 60). The third-party delivery service is also subsidizing telehealth costs related to the virus for any Dasher.
Notably, the company has also launched a childcare support program for the top Dashers in its Dasher Rewards program. Those that qualify can receive financial assistance for childcare while schools remain closed due to COVID-19. According to the release, the program will provide a financial bridge to parents until Pandemic Unemployment Assistance becomes available.”
As new developments for gig workers go, none of these initiatives is particularly unique. Most third-party delivery services have been offering some financial relief as well as protective gear to workers during the pandemic. One assumes this is at least partially in response to pressure from advocates and restaurant industry personnel to take better care of gig workers, who normally don’t receive benefits like paid sick leave, healthcare, and workers compensation. In fact, DoorDash was among the companies fighting California’s Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law in 2019 and reclassifies contract workers as employees.
What is new to this story is the involvement of a state government. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is particularly vocal about how gig workers are treated. One of the stated goals on his website is to “end worker misclassification.” Depending on how extensive the partnership with DoorDash is, and how long it runs, other states could follow Shapiro’s lead.
It’s unclear right now if DoorDash’s newfound partnership is an about-face for the company or just another PR stunt. Recall that in addition to fighting California’s AB5, DoorDash was also the subject of a lawsuit filed by DC Attorney General Karl Racine, that one over unfair tipping practices for Dashers.
The answer will probably not come until we’re further out from this pandemic and business regains some sort of normalcy. As I mentioned above, the major delivery services are providing at least some form of relief to workers right now. How long these protections extend in the post-pandemic world will show whether how long-lasting third-party delivery’s commitment to its gig workers’ well being actually is.