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SF Employers Must Provide Essential Workers With Protective Gear During COVID-19 Pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency ordinance to temporarily require employers like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and on-demand delivery service companies to provide their employees with protections from the coronavirus.

The ordinance ensures an expanded workers' rights package, which includes personal protective equipment; paid time while drivers clean their cars and wash their hands; no-contact options during delivery; and a no retaliation clause.

"This is a scary, challenging time for all of us, and especially for our frontline workers who are still out there making sure we all have access to food, medicine, and essential goods. They need to be protected so they don't get sick or get anyone else sick, and they never face retaliation for it," said Supervisor Matt Haney, who introduced the ordinance.

The legislation mandates, among other things, that employers provide gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, soap and water in the workplace, or that on-demand delivery service workers be reimbursed for buying such items.

According to an online survey conducted by researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz for the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission, the ordinance is desperately needed as delivery drivers who rely on on-demand work via mobile apps, have seen a dramatic drop in earnings.

More than half reported losing between 75 and 100 percent of their weekly earnings since February. Given this, nearly one-third of drivers reported they're still accepting jobs despite concerns of spreading or contracting COVID-19.

In addition, 58 percent of those surveyed reported not getting gloves or sanitizing products from their employers, and 73 percent reported their employers are not providing financial support if they are exposed to or contract the virus.

"App-based workers have long struggled to have their rights recognized as employees and now are struggling to get basic protections from COVID-19 as they provide essential services to SF residents," San Francisco LAFCo Chair and Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said in a statement.

"Locally and at the state level, we must hold these companies accountable for protecting their workers, and I am proud of this groundbreaking study for bringing these issues to light," she said.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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