Millions of gig economy workers need help now to make coronavirus lockdowns work

The UK is banning people from leaving their homes apart from for a few "very limited" reasons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced, as he imposed the most stringent restrictions seen in Britain since the end of World War II.

Posted: Mar 24, 2020 12:41 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2020 12:41 PM

Millions of gig economy workers across the world are facing an impossible choice as a result of the coronavirus pandemic: break lockdown rules, or stay home and earn nothing.

The dilemma was illustrated Tuesday by images of packed subway cars in London less than 12 hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced stricter social distancing measures as part of a nationwide lockdown.

The new coronavirus restrictions mean people are only allowed to leave their homes for medical reasons, to grocery shop or exercise once a day, and to travel to and from work when absolutely necessary.

In the United States, at least 16 states have issued stay-at-home orders which, once in effect, will impact 142 million people, or 43% of the US population, according to data compiled by CNN.

But lockdowns won't be effective if individuals who cannot work from home continue reporting to job sites because not doing so would deprive them of income.

The UK government's pledge to subsidize up to 80% of wages does not apply to the country's 5 million self-employed workers, who have been given limited relief through the tax and welfare systems. The lack of cover has prompted calls for the government to also support gig economy workers.

The Trades Union Congress, which represents nearly 50 UK labor unions, said in a statement Monday that existing measures for self-employed people, which include delayed income tax payments and access to up to £94 ($112) a week through the benefits system, are "clearly not good enough."

The opposition Labour Party has called on the government to urgently extend financial assistance to the self-employed so that "nobody risks losing their income by staying home."

"Many of those traveling to work today ... work in the gig economy or are freelancers," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Tuesday on Twitter. "A proper package of support for these workers would alleviate this situation and help public transport, and I've raised this with the government," he added.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on Monday urged President Donald Trump to include protections and benefits for independent workers as part of the country's economic stimulus. Some 15.9 million Americans, or 10% of the country's workforce, are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

US laws "should protect all workers, not just one type of work," Khosrowshahi said in a letter to Trump in which he calls on government to consider a longer-term safety net for gig economy workers.

More than 1.3 million Americans work on Uber's platform. The company had 3.9 million drivers worldwide at the end of 2018. It largely views such workers as independent contractors not eligible for benefits.

Uber said in a statement that it is providing drivers and delivery people with financial assistance for up to 14 days if they are diagnosed with the coronavirus or placed into quarantine by a public health authority. By comparison: the UK wage subsidy will run for at least three months.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61331

Reported Deaths: 3006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11122439
Cuyahoga8518383
Hamilton6396206
Lucas2859304
Marion273739
Montgomery228335
Summit2269209
Pickaway220641
Mahoning1885239
Butler172147
Columbiana132460
Stark1171114
Lorain107368
Trumbull101474
Warren91825
Clark78410
Delaware64515
Fairfield61417
Tuscarawas59010
Belmont55822
Lake55122
Medina54832
Licking53612
Miami48631
Portage47759
Wood46151
Ashtabula43844
Clermont4367
Geauga41543
Wayne36752
Richland3595
Allen33841
Greene3009
Mercer29410
Erie26022
Darke25326
Holmes2524
Huron2342
Madison2069
Ottawa16124
Sandusky14215
Washington14220
Crawford1375
Ross1363
Putnam13315
Coshocton1323
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson952
Muskingum921
Union921
Athens911
Monroe8917
Hancock841
Preble811
Hocking798
Lawrence790
Guernsey763
Shelby724
Williams722
Clinton700
Logan661
Fulton650
Ashland621
Wyandot615
Carroll603
Brown591
Scioto560
Defiance543
Knox531
Fayette510
Highland471
Champaign461
Van Wert430
Perry401
Seneca362
Henry320
Jackson270
Paulding270
Pike270
Adams241
Vinton222
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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