In the current version of a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed by the U.S. Senate, gig economy workers, such as drivers for Uber Technologies Inc. (UBER 0.22%) and Lyft Inc. (LYFT 0.63%), will be eligible for unemployment benefits, including enhanced benefits for up to four months. The bill still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on it Friday.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi praised the inclusion of independent workers in the aid package, noting that there are 1.3 million American Uber passenger and delivery drivers who are facing economic challenges, while still working to get food to people as many stay isolated trying to control the pandemic spread. 

Food delivery driver ringing apartment doorbell

Image source: Getty Images.

Contractors or employees

Khosrowshahi's support comes with the backdrop of the company's opposition to California contractor law AB-5, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The law aims to classify gig workers such as ride-sharing drivers as employees, forcing companies like Uber and Lyft that rely on them, to provide full employee benefits such as healthcare. Uber and others are challenging AB-5 in a lawsuit.

In a letter to President Trump this week, CNBC reported that the Uber CEO asked for aid for gig workers whose income has been hit by the coronavirus impacts. He also contended that there be a new way to classify workers, beyond just employee or contractor, "to remove the forced choice between flexibility and protection for millions of American workers."