Coronavirus: Uber and Deliveroo offer UK Health Service free trips and food

From the BBC

Ride hailing giant Uber and takeaway firm Deliveroo are offering hundreds of thousands of free trips and meals to NHS staff fighting the coronavirus.

Uber is giving away 200,000 rides worth up to £15 and 100,000 free meals worth up to £10.

Deliveroo said it would deliver 500,000 hot dishes to NHS Trusts from the likes of Pizza Hut, Itsu and Neat Burger.

However, unions say the firms are “still failing” to support their own low-paid workers during the crisis.

Under its offer, Uber said NHS workers could claim up to 10 car rides or cycle trips per week and five meal vouchers.

It said drivers would get the full fare on the trips as Uber will not charge a service fee.

Deliveroo said hospitals would be able to order hot dishes with it directly, not via its app, starting in London and Manchester, then in all the regions it covers.

It is funding the effort through private donations and corporate contributions, with Pizza Hut having offered to provide 300,000 of the hot dishes.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised both firms for “playing their part in this great national effort”.

Woman using phone to summon a taxi

Earlier in March, Uber and Deliveroo both said they would pay workers for 14 days if they fell sick, as long as they could provide sick notes.

But due to a lack of testing and doctors’ appointments, many could not access help until 21 March when the NHS 111 phone service began offering notes.

The IGWB union said NHS 111 could only backdate a note six days, meaning many drivers would still miss out.

Greg Howard, a Deliveroo rider and the secretary of the IWGB’s couriers and logistics branch, said: “It’s great that Uber and Deliveroo are assisting some front line workers, but its own workers are still being failed by the companies.

“Their coronavirus sick pay policies, at £100 a week, pay around the same as universal credit and some Deliveroo riders that had to self-isolate before 21 March are still being denied even these measly payments.

“Workers that are now facing deeper poverty because of the drop in demand for rides and deliveries are being offered no assistance by their employers.

“Riders and drivers are going above and beyond during this crisis to feed and transport people, they are overdue some basic protections and respect from their employers.”

Deliveroo told the BBC its rider support team had been working 24 hours a day to ensure riders felt supported and safe, and that the feedback from workers had been positive.

United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD), which represents Uber drivers, urged the Department for Transport and Transport for London to do more to protect private hire drivers from infection.

Uber has offered to provide drivers with sanitising spray to wipe down their vehicles, but UPHD chair James Farrar said this was not enough.

“The authorities must immediately enforce strict safety standards for private hire operators including procedures for vehicle disinfecting, regular driver testing and provision of personal protection equipment for drivers.”

In a statement, Uber said it was providing financial assistance to “anyone who drives or delivers with Uber and is diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed in individual quarantine by a public health authority due to their risk of spreading Covid-19. This assistance is now available worldwide.”