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Gig work reportedly getting more deadly for the workers

Gig work is attractive for several reasons but can be fatal, according to a report by Gig Workers Rising. Over 50 people doing gig work have met their death while on the job in the US alone since 2017.

What is worrying is that there appears to be an upward trend in the deaths, as about two-thirds of the reported cases happened in 2021 and 2022. But more importantly, the companies that give out the gig jobs usually don’t do much to compensate the families of the deceased.

The report covered more than 50 fatal incidents involving gig workers from sources in the public domain like social media, news items, police reports, court cases, and a database updated by The Markup for carjacking involving ride-hail drivers. However, the report did not consider deaths due to traffic accidents or other injuries.

The report authors also point out that the list is not comprehensive and suggests the accurate figure is likely to be much greater. One roadblock is that gig work platforms do not disclose the number of homicide cases involving their workers.

Gig Workers Rising reported fatal incidents like carjacking, armed robberies gone awry, and hate crimes.

The report says in part, “After a worker’s tragic death, the corporations for whom they worked too often send sympathy through news reporters but do not consistently support workers or their families with basic protections like workers’ compensation. This behavior is consistent with too many corporations’ core business model: minimizing compensation and inadequately protecting their workers by, among other things, classifying them as independent contractors. Gig corporation policies put workers at risk in order to maximize profits for investors, but take insufficient responsibility for the workers who bring in their revenue. Meanwhile, gig platform corporation senior executives take home millions of dollars a year.

“According to a recent Pew Research Center report, gig workers of color are more likely than those who are white to say they have at least sometimes felt unsafe or been sexually harassed on the job. Similarly, in our database, we found that the over 63% of the app-based workers killed in the last five years were people of color, though workers of color comprise less than 39% of the overall workforce in the US economy.”

In many cases, the driver was killed by their passenger, including Christina Spicuzza from Pittsburgh and Abdul Rauf Khan in Springfield, Virginia. They both perished in carjacking incidents.

Sadly, many of the cases did not result in compensation to the victim’s family. The gig company concerned was able to wiggle out of any commitment because the victims were not employees but independent contractors. It is the same reason that gig workers do not get a guaranteed minimum wage or other job benefits.

However, some gig platforms claim to offer accident insurance. For example, DoorDash told Engadget, “We were the first national delivery platform to offer occupational accident insurers to Dashers at no cost to them and with no opt-in or application required, which can support them if they’re injured while providing a delivery on our platform.” DoorDash may pay survivors up to $150,000.

Instacart also offers up to $320,000 to families of deceased shoppers who die through an accident related to the job. It will also support the burial with up to $10,000. A spokesperson for the company said, “Shopper Injury Protection applies to all US full-service shoppers and includes coverage for certain medical expenses, disability payments, and accidental death benefits.”

Meanwhile, Lyft told Engadget through its spokesperson, Gabriela Condarco-Quesada, “Since day one, we’ve built safety into every part of the Lyft experience. We are committed to doing everything we can to help protect drivers from crime and will continue to take action and invest in technology, policies, and partnerships to make Lyft as safe as it can be.”

The Wall Street independently reported that many gig workers have stopped taking jobs because of increased violent crimes last year.

Written by HackerVibes

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