On Thursday, Uber for the first time detailed how much it has spent to support its ride-hail drivers and food delivery workers during the coronavirus crisis, which has battered the company and forced it to lay off thousands of employees.
Uber said in a blog post that it had spent $19 million as of mid-May in direct two-week financial assistance to a total of nearly 48,900 drivers worldwide who were infected by the virus or ordered to quarantine.
Half of that amount was paid out to 12,350 drivers and delivery workers in the United States and Canada, Uber’s largest market, and where it has some 1.3 million drivers.
North American drivers received an average of nearly $650 under the program announced in mid-March, but payout amounts varied widely by location, with Uber limiting the maximum payment per city and calculating support based on prior earnings.
The company did not provide a breakdown of payments in other countries, but a spokesman mentioned that financial assistance has been provided in all of the more than 70 countries it operates in.
The spokesman said that drivers’ demand for support also varied depending on the existing social safety net in individual countries.
Ride-hail drivers in online forums have complained about an arduous approval process to receive financial support. In the United States, many drivers also struggled to receive unemployment benefits, typically reserved for employees.
The company insists its drivers are independent contractors, but in March Uber urged the US president to include gig-economy workers in a federal relief bill so drivers could receive unemployment benefits.
Previously, Uber said it has allocated $50 million to supply drivers with masks and disinfectants and purchased some 28 million masks. The company said that almost half a million drivers and delivery people have received safety supplies to date.