TaskRabbit, citing coronavirus spread, will now waive task cancellation fees if you’re sick

TaskRabbit, the freelance labor platform that matches workers with people who need stuff done, announced on Tuesday evening that it’s canning fees for tasks cancelled due to illness. 

Specifically mentioning coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, an email sent out to members of the site outlined the change to the policy. Previously, tasks cancelled by clients less than 24 hours in advance attracted a one-hour cancellation fee.

TaskRabbit also said it has advised Taskers — the site members performing work for clients — to reschedule tasks if they are “experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19”.

As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be a concern worldwide, we know customers are thinking carefully about their existing and future bookings with TaskRabbit. To offer customers more flexibility, we will waive if you have to cancel or reschedule a task within 24 hours of the scheduled start time due to illness. Taskers also have been advised to reschedule any tasks if they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. While there are no current restrictions to the locations in which we operate, customers can continue to book tasks with confidence on TaskRabbit and know that changes or cancellations will be allowed should the situation change or should you begin experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

The announcement appeared to be aimed more at TaskRabbit clients than Taskers themselves (of course, some people may be both). Mashable reached out to the company to clarify that Taskers who are unwell or showing COVID-19 symptoms will not be penalized for rescheduling tasks, and we’ll update if we receive a response.

From potential pandemics to hazardous air quality, gig workers are especially at risk during a public health crisis. If they keep working while sick or vulnerable they could endanger their own health, infect others, and stay sicker for longer; if they don’t, they can lose income or future gigs, as they don’t get paid sick days and could face consequences from their gig-facilitating platform of choice if they work less or can’t work at all. 

Ridesharing platforms like Uber and Lyft have offered advice to their workers about staying safe during the outbreak, but the fact remains that — as seen during Sydney’s hazardous smoke from the Australian bushfires over the southern summer — gig workers are often forced to choose income over caution.

Apparent community transmission of coronavirus — that is, people being infected despite not having travelled to the areas where it’s prevalent or come into contact with someone else with the illness — was first confirmed in the U.S. last week. Health authorities say there’s no reason to panic and that people should go about their normal lives, take precautions like being diligent about washing your hands (which you should do anyway) and trying not to touch your face, and self-isolate and seek medical attention if symptoms appear. 

But a bit of extra caution doesn’t hurt — if you can afford it.

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