- Lyft will provide free ride credit to essential workers through partnerships with national organizations that promote equity and economic opportunity for communities of color, it announced April 16. The organizations will distribute credit to their members, a spokesperson told HR Dive in an email; the groups include the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, the Black Women's Roundtable, the National Asian American Coalition and the National Asian American/Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, people of color are overrepresented in many occupations within front-line industries including food and warehouse distribution, according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. In low-wage jobs, many front-line employees "feel like they have no choice but to continue working," an April 10 Brookings Institution report stated.
- "Many Hispanic and minority-owned small businesses have been impacted at this time and every resource helps," Ramiro A. Cavazos, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. "If some of our members are essential employees trying to get to work safely or trying to get a medical appointment quickly, Lyft is providing an important lifeline." Lyft is also making continuous updates on its blog to ensure drivers and riders understand the best ways to protect themselves during the pandemic, the company said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory March 28 defining essential industries; it included medical and healthcare, defense, food and agriculture and transportation and logistics, among others.
New York has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of publishing, and the majority of essential or front-line workers in New York City are people of color, according to a report by Scott Stringer, the city's comptroller. The average front-line worker traveling to work sites throughout the five boroughs will spend 45 minutes traveling each way, the report, published March 26, said. Prior to the pandemic, 55% used the subway, bus or rail to get to work each day, and 32% used an automobile. "Lyft is doing a lot of work in New York through LyftUp, including partnering with local organizations and their Citi Bike Critical Workforce Membership Program," a Lyft spokesperson told HR Dive.
Commuting during the pandemic is a reality for most Hispanic workers. Analyzing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an Economic Policy Institute report published March 19 found that 16% of Hispanic workers are able to work remotely, compared to 37% of Asian workers, 30% of white workers and nearly 20% of black workers. Low-wage workers have the least flexibility, EPI stated, as 9% in the lowest quartile of the wage distribution can telework compared with 61% of workers in the highest quartile. Along with having the least flexibility for telework, about half (49%) of Hispanic respondents said they or someone in their household has taken a pay cut or lost a job – or both – due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in comparison with 33% of all U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Center.
Most companies are choosing not to provide front-line workers "hazard pay," according to a report from WorldatWork published April 9; 65% of the 1,510 employers surveyed said their organizations do not plan to offer incentives or bonuses such as hazard pay to workers required to be on site. Such pay is more common for those in retail and healthcare, however.