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Uber and Lyft Drivers Want Sick Leave in California

Class action lawsuits have been filed by Uber and Lyft drivers seeking paid sick leave in a San Francisco court. California law requires employers to provide sick leave to employees, generally one hour for every 30 hours worked. AB 5 enacted this year presumes workers are employees unless employers can establish that they are independent contractors. Uber and Lyft lobbied hard prior to the passage of the bill to gain exemptions to classifying their drivers as employees. The current lawsuits seek an injunction declaring the drivers “employees” ensuring that they will legally be entitled to paid sick leave.

Lawyers for the drivers assert that the injunction is necessary because of the threat to the public, not just to the drivers. “If drivers are not getting paid for sick time, it’s not just a matter of them losing money; drivers will work (despite public health recommendations that anyone who is feeling sick should stay home) because without paid sick leave, they have to work in order to pay their rent and survive.”

Uber has since announced that drivers will be eligible for sick pay following documentation of being diagnosed with the coronavirus, placed into quarantine, asked to self-isolate, or having been removed from Uber’s app for 14 days at the direction of a public health organization. Lyft has also said it would provide funds to drivers if they are diagnosed with the coronavirus. The drivers’ attorneys do not believe these measures are sufficient. They argue California law requires sick leave and CDC recommendations are that anyone who is sick should stay home irrespective of whether they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.