Coronavirus and Food Delivery: A Guide to Popular Bay Area Apps and Health Policies

Delivery during coronavirus raises questions of safety, employee protections and more. (iStock)

During the coronavirus crisis, Californians are ever more reliant on delivery services for takeout and groceries. And, almost two months into shelter-in-place restrictions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are similarly relying on these services to keep their business afloat.

Ordering takeout can certainly support restaurants, and keeps diners sheltered in their homes. Yet the burden and health risks of acquiring food has shifted to a delivery workforce that is largely without employer-provided health insurance and other benefits like sick paid leave. And then there's the cut that delivery apps take from local restaurants.

Ordering Delivery and Takeout in the Bay Area During Coronavirus

If you're someone who cares about worker protection, public safety and supporting local restaurants, what's the difference between one delivery app or another?

That's where this guide comes in. Below, we’ve researched the policies of the more popular delivery companies in the Bay Area, prioritizing paid sick leave, hazard pay, fees charged to restaurants and distribution of protective equipment to drivers.

Some basics, first:

  • This guide is made to represent and track changes to policies since the outbreak of coronavirus.
  • This information is gathered directly from company spokespersons, previous news reporting, and the company’s websites.
  • Public health officials have found no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission from food or food packaging.
  • Since April 16, California mandates that all food workers get two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave. This includes delivery drivers and otherwise non-benefited employees. Food workers are eligible for 80 hours of paid sick leave if they are subject to, quarantine, isolation order or under a medical directive to stop working.
  • Some delivery companies have waived delivery fees for customers, but restaurants are still paying commissions ranging from 10% to 30% per order. (In April, San Francisco Mayor London Breed temporarily capped the fees that restaurants pay to delivery companies at 15%.)


DoorDash and Caviar

Both provide two weeks’ pay to couriers who are either diagnosed with COVID-19, quarantined with medical documentation, or are proven housemates with someone who has been. Couriers must also have been active on the platforms for at least two months and completed 30 deliveries in the past 30 days. The company also recently amended this policy to include non-diagnosed drivers who are high-risk, or drivers who live with a high-risk housemate.

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

The companies have not amended their wages or tips for couriers.

Vendor Fees

Through April, DoorDash and Caviar have offered free sign-up and no commission for 30 days to new restaurants on the platform. Pick-up orders are not charged commission.

Protective Equipment

Distributing PPE equipment is in process.

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Default delivery method has been changed to no-contact. 

Woman pulling out groceries from a box.

Good Eggs

Sick Leave Policy

Before the coronavirus pandemic, all employees received nine days of sick leave. After the onset, Good Eggs added two weeks of sick leave to the existing policy for employees who qualify based on the state's mandate.

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

The company has introduced new bonuses available to employees.

Vendor Fees

Vendor fees do not apply. Good Eggs acts as a supplier of goods from farmers and foodmakers.

Protective Equipment

Good Eggs is providing employees with masks, alcohol wipes, disinfectant, and hand sanitizer. Employees are allowed to wear their own mask if it meets or exceeds the quality of masks provided. The company has stopped reusing delivery boxes and ice packs. Delivery vans are cleaned and sanitized every night. 

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Physical distancing has become a standard practice in the company’s fulfillment center and production kitchen. When physical distancing is not possible, masks, gloves and frequent handwashing are required. The company recommends a 15-minute limit on work in close proximity.

Good Eggs has shifted to contactless delivery only.

Chinese takeout

Grubhub

Sick Leave Policy

Grubhub has offered a one-time payment to drivers, based on average three-week earnings, who have a documented COVID-19 diagnosis, have been ordered by a public health authority or licensed medical provider to self-isolate, or had their accounts restricted as a result of information from a public health authority. Only drivers who have made at least one delivery in the last 30 days are eligible.

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

Grubhub did not return requests for comment on tips and hazard pay.

Vendor Fees

The company has not changed its fee policies. The company has come under fire in recent weeks for offering a discount program that put the cost on participating restaurants without their knowledge. Grubhub updated the program to pay for a portion of the orders.

Protective Equipment

The company’s website states drivers can order free protective equipment including hand sanitizer, masks and gloves on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Default delivery method has been changed to no-contact. 

Open fridge filled with produce

Instacart

Sick Leave Policy

All workers are eligible for 14 days of paid sick leave if they are diagnosed with COVID-19, in mandatory isolation or mandatory quarantine. While some in-store only shoppers can accrue sick pay as part of their benefitted employee status, Instacart workers who shop as well as deliver are in independent contractors without benefits.

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

The company has introduced bonuses of $25–$150 to in-store employees but hazard pay demands of delivery employees have not been granted. Customer tips have increased by 30% on average according to the company but some Instacart shoppers have complained that “tip-baitinghas been detrimental to their pay.

Protective Equipment

Three weeks ago, Instacart announced it will distribute free health and safety kits to full-service shoppers that include a washable and reusable face mask, hand sanitizer and a thermometer. Shoppers will order these kits online. So far, it seems that there is a delay in both the ordering and fulfillment process of these protective safety kits to shoppers, who’ve complained they were unable to order using an internal company website. 

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Instacart offers a contactless delivery option.

Fried chicken and a burger

Postmates

Sick Leave Policy

Postmates has launched a "Fleet Relief Fund" to help drivers cover medical expenses related to COVID-19, not contingent upon diagnosis. Drivers who test positive can receive up to two weeks of lost income. Postmates covers lost wages and some medical fees for couriers that are diagnosed or who have a family member diagnosed with COVID-19.

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

Postmates has not amended their delivery drivers’ wages through hazard pay or bonuses.

Vendor Fees

Postmates has waived fees for restaurants in San Francisco. The company has also launched a pilot program for qualifying small businesses new to the platform, which waives commission fees in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Detroit.

Protective Equipment

The company is in the process of distributing reusable and single-use masks to couriers across the country in accordance with city, county and state regulations. The company is also in the process of creating funds for drivers to purchase their own PPE. 

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Postmates offers a non-contact delivery option. 

UberEats delivery person on a bike

UberEats

Sick Leave Policy

Last month Uber announced a financial assistance policy for active drivers who have completed at least one trip in the past 30 days and have been diagnosed or are self-isolating at the direction of a public health authority. The company has extended eligibility to delivery drivers with pre-existing conditions who have been advised to quarantine during the pandemic. Payments vary by city. 

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

The company has not amended its wages or tip baselines for drivers.

Vendor Fees

The company has switched from a weekly payout policy to a daily one. They have also waived delivery fees for independent restaurants, which makes up more than 55% of restaurants on their platform in California. 

Protective Equipment

The company is distributing 500,000 ear-loop face masks and cleaning supplies to active drivers and delivery people around the U.S. 

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Contactless delivery is available on UberEats.

Amazon Fresh insulated grocery delivery bags on front porch closeup

Whole Foods on Amazon Prime

Sick Leave Policy

Whole Foods grocery store staff are planning their second sickout of the year on May 1 in protest of unsafe working conditions at the chain. The grocery store’s workers fall under different employment categories than shoppers and delivery drivers, who are hourly Amazon workers without benefits. Amazon warehouse workers across the country have held similar protests and continue to hold sick outs, stating that the company has not made good on its promise to provide sick leave, masks and temperature checks. Workers in over 130 Amazon warehouses have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Hazard Pay, Wages and Tips

In the U.S., Amazon has increased their hourly minimum wage from $15 to $17 through April. The company has also doubled the overtime pay rate. Delivery drivers do not qualify for tips.

Protective Equipment

Whole Foods and Amazon have both promised safety measures that include protective equipment and daily temperature checks for their employees, but workers say those needs have gone unmet.

Social Distancing and Contactless Delivery 

Ineffective social distancing is one of the complaints of Whole Foods and Amazon workers who have called out sick in protest. Deliveries through Amazon are often contactless.

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