At a time when gig workers are among the hardest hit economically by the coronavirus pandemic, consumer internet firms in the country are coming up with various initiatives to provide support to them who are employed with these firms in large numbers. Companies such as Ola, Flipkart and Amazon are going all out to help their delivery and driver partners, service providers and other freelance workers manage the impact of the pandemic on their livelihood and make them return to work.
Despite the mobility industry being at a standstill until recently, ride-hailing giant Ola’s approach has been to bring access to emergency financial support as well as operational livelihood support. Apart from educating its driver partners about the potential hazards of the contagion and providing then and their spouses with Covid-19 insurance, Ola has also extended them weekly interest-free credit for short term financial need.
“Last few weeks have been difficult for me and my family with the medical bills piling up and no source of income. I received monetary aid from Ola Foundation which ensured my mother gets proper treatment,” said Mumbai-based Shamshad A, a driver associated with Ola who received Rs 60,000 from the company as loan to support his mother’s cancer treatments.
Gig workers like cab and auto drivers and their families across the country are facing due to the lockdown to contain the coronavirus. “Our teams are working round the clock to provide support to thousands of driver-partners across the country who have reached out over the past few weeks,” said a spokesperson of Ola. The company through its foundation has further distributed over 9.6 lakh kgs of essential supplies to its driver community across 25 cities over the past seven weeks, it added.
Urban Company, the firm which provides home services such as plumbing, carpentry and appliance repair, is making efforts to secure the livelihoods for nearly 30,000 micro-entrepreneurs on its platform and has extended business advances of Rs 5,000 each as sustenance money.
It has also set up a fund to support its partners in addition to providing Covid related health insurance to them and their families. “We are using our app and digital media to stay in touch with our partners and offer safety guidelines and mental health support,” said Abhay Mathur, SVP - Finance at Urban Company, during a recently held webinar.
Similarly, Amazon India has extended the ‘Amazon Relief Fund’ to its associates who are enabling it fulfil customer orders during this time. This protects thousands of associates not employed by Amazon but who play an integral role in the logistics network helping customers stay home in this challenging time.
Flipkart has come up with new insurance protection and incentive policy for supply chain partners, including kiranas and freelance delivery executives, to safeguard them against the impact of Covid-19. Under its customised insurance cover, Flipkart is offering its alternate delivery partners and kirana partners an income protection plan along with an outpatient department insurance that covers outpatient expenses, consultation, pharmacy and diagnostics with no waiting period. The aim is to safeguard them against any loss of income and cover OPD expenses during the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. The income protection plan offers income protection to the freelance delivery executives for a maximum of three weeks. “Based on the demand from each city or town, we are paying additional income and incentives to the delivery partners who are ready to provide their services in these conditions,” said an official at Flipkart.