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Postmates Adds Childcare Stipend for Struggling Delivery Workers

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(Bloomberg) -- Postmates Inc. is expanding an aid program for its delivery workers affected by Covid-19 to include relief for some parents and caregivers left without childcare or who are caring for sick family members.

The fourth-largest delivery app in the U.S. plans to announce Monday that it will provide cash stipends for families in California and New York through its Postmates Fleet Relief Fund. The policy goes a step further than what other major gig economy companies are offering their workers; however, Postmates is short on details about how many people will be eligible.

Other delivery platforms, including DoorDash Inc., Grubhub Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., currently offer various forms of financial and medical assistance to workers, but Postmates will be the first to attempt to cover childcare specifically. “I am proud to be able to lead the industry in creating a program that offers families even more emergency financial support,” Postmates Chief Executive Officer Bastian Lehmann said in an emailed statement.

Starting Friday, workers who make at least 60 deliveries a week can apply for the family care stipend, according to a Postmates spokeswoman. The payments are doled out on a weekly basis, and recipients can reapply if additional time is needed, she said. The payout will be about triple the average national hourly earnings for Postmates workers before expenses. That works out to about $72 an hour. The San Francisco-based company declined to specify how long the policy will be active or the total size of the relief fund.

The pandemic has been especially punishing for gig workers, whose jobs often lack health benefits and long-term stability. But at the same time, gig work has become a popular fallback for millions of Americans losing their jobs. Postmates said it has seen an 84% increase in people signing up to work through its app. It counts about 600,000 delivery total workers on its platform. Delivery companies are seeing customer demand rise as well, with more people placing delivery orders to avoid leaving their homes.

Even still, Postmates is in a precarious situation. The company said more than a year ago that it had filed confidentially with U.S. regulators for an initial public offering. In September, it raised additional capital from private investors at a $2.4 billion valuation. Postmates still hasn’t gone public, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon under the current market conditions. In terms of usage, Postmates has lagged behind some of its food delivery peers, accounting for just 6% of online food delivery sales in the U.S., according to market research firm Edison Trends.

Kee Broussard, 44, has been making deliveries with Postmates in the Los Angeles area since 2017, earning an average of $600 a week, she said. But in the last month, she has had to stay home with her daughter as schools remain closed. That’s meant she’s earning about half her typical weekly wages.

Broussard said she will be among the first to apply for the family stipend, hoping to be able to take a one-week break from delivering chicken tikka masala to customers in West Hollywood. If she qualifies and receives the extra money, she’ll re-evaluate to see if she can take more time off. “It will help put my mind at ease as I take a much-needed break,” she said. “I feel the anxiety every time I go out.”

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