India-HQed ride hailing giant Ola, has announced setting up of a dedicated COVID-19 fund for driver partners in Australia. Ola has already announced a similar model in India. Australia will be the first foreign geography wherein Ola is providing direct cash benefits to positive-tested drivers affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

As a part of this coronavirus fund, Ola drivers in Australia who are affected by coronavirus or are required to self-isolate as a result of exposure/overseas travel will be able to claim financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. The amount drivers receive will be equivalent to 14 days worth of their individual average daily earnings on the Ola platform. Active drivers eligible for the scheme will be required to submit documentation to support their claim.

Ola’s head of international operations, Simon Smith said in a prepared statement, “The health and safety of our driver-partners continue to be a top priority for us. While we continue to share health advisories to raise awareness levels, the COVID 19 fund adds a much-needed layer of financial security for drivers and their families in these challenging times.”

In India, Ola announced similar incentives to help drivers, though limited to cases wherein the drivers or their spouses are diagnosed with coronavirus. Ola would cover loss of income for driver-partners and their spouses in case they test positive for COVID-19.

All eligible Ola driver-partners and their spouses shall be covered by a floater sum of Rs. 30,000 under which they can receive a compensation of INR 1000 per day for a maximum of 21 days for an individual from the date of a positive diagnosis for COVID- 19. This will include hospital and home quarantine prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner, as approved by the Government norms from time to time. Drivers can make a claim for this compensation for themselves and (or) their spouse by providing appropriate medical documents.

While such benefits are welcome, it would have been good to see some direct benefits to all drivers, considering India has announced a complete lockdown in 80 affected districts across the country. Under the condition of a lockdown, driver partners for either of these ride hailing giants will be unable to operate, thus drastically affecting their livelihoods. Additionally, most of the driver partners take cars on high interest loans, which are re-paid through salaries they earn during daily driving jobs.

Previously, Ola had announced complete suspension of its ride-sharing option ‘Ola Share’ in India, amid Indian Prime Minister’s call for social distancing. Uber on the other hand, today announced suspension of all services across select Indian cities.

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