Gig workers, like Instacart shoppers, have been included in the US government’s coronavirus relief bill.


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The federal government has agreed to include financial assistance to gig workers in its historic $2 trillion economic relief package. The long fought-over provision will benefit independent contractors who work for companies like Uber, Lyft and Instacart. Many of these gig workers have seen their earnings dwindle as the novel coronavirus swept across the country and shelter-in-place orders were put into effect.

As part of the stimulus bill — which passed Friday and now heads to President Donald Trump for signature — gig workers can apply for unemployment benefits. They’ll also be eligible for a weekly stipend in federal support for up to four months.

“I called for special protections for our gig workers and independent contractors,” Senator Edward J. Markey, D-Mass, said in a statement. “Now they will have a new Unemployment Insurance program to provide benefits.”

As the coronavirus has proliferated, it’s upturned the world’s economy. The stock market has crashed, trade has slowed and unemployment has skyrocketed. COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has now infected nearly 570,000 people worldwide and claimed the lives of more than 25,000.

Gig workers have been caught up in the midst of it. Many have seen their earnings dry up. Others have tested positive for COVID-19 or developed symptoms that forced them to quarantine and take unpaid time off. This week a New York Uber driver in his 40s, Anil Subba, became the first known gig worker to die from the disease.

Since gig workers are classified as independent contractors, they lack the same benefits as employees. Drivers and delivery people for these services don’t have company health insurance, sick leave, family leave, disability or workers compensation. 

Being included in the federal government’s stimulus package will likely give many of these workers much needed relief.

This is a developing story…

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