January 19, 2021

The Dark Side of Food Delivery Apps

Food delivery apps are incredibly convenient for people stuck at home throughout the pandemic, but workers who make deliveries through these apps are struggling.

Following the spread of COVID-19, many people have experienced unemployment, leading them to work for various food delivery apps such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash. There has been an increased demand for these apps’ services due to the pandemic. However, that surge in demand combined with difficult working conditions has made it harder for delivery workers.

The Struggles That Delivery Workers Face Amid COVID-19

Many people have relied on delivery apps and drivers to provide food and other necessary goods while staying safe and healthy within the home. Unfortunately, many delivery workers have suffered because of limitations and criminal activity that put employees at risk on a daily basis.

In urban areas like New York City, the crime rate has risen and impacted delivery drivers’ ability to work. The danger of assault, carjacking, and bicycle theft are some of the risks affecting delivery drivers, which are not only rendering them unable to do their job but causing injury and leading to expenses that affect personal wellbeing.

In addition to criminal activity, many workers are encountering other obstacles. For example, many restaurants are denying delivery workers the ability to use restrooms due to COVID-19 restrictions, which has forced workers to use plastic bottles, leading to unsanitary working conditions.

Compensating Delivery Workers

Despite the increase in sales that delivery apps are seeing, many delivery workers aren’t seeing a change in pay. Unlike other employees, delivery workers for these apps are independent contractors who aren’t guaranteed minimum wage. These contractors also don’t receive the benefits that part- or full-time employees receive, such as overtime or worker’s compensation benefits in the event of a work injury.

While Uber Eats and DoorDash have implemented steps to make sure that workers receive 100% of tips, workers have reported that they don’t always receive the full amount of tips. Even after working several hours per day, many workers don’t earn above $50.

In addition to inconsistent compensation, delivery workers are facing increased competition that’s making it even harder to get sufficient work.

On the other hand, some companies are taking steps to help their workers. For instance, Uber has offered sick pay to workers who contract COVID-19 or otherwise become ill. At the same time, DoorDash is providing sanitary supplies including hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves to its workers, along with affordable telemedicine appointments.

Prior to the pandemic, delivery apps may have provided many workers with a convenient means of supplemental income. However, since many of those workers have lost primary jobs due to the spread of COVID-19, they have relied on delivery apps as a main source of income.

The Need for Change

Due to the hardships that many delivery workers face, and the health risks that compound already-difficult circumstances, workers want to see improved pay. As many people rely on delivery apps, from citizens staying at home to other workers requiring goods delivered to nursing homes, delivery workers are doing their best with minimal benefits.