Uber Eats is adding an in-app donate button for customers who want to contribute some extra cash to their favorite restaurant to help during the coronavirus pandemic. Uber also plans to match every contribution dollar-for-dollar up to $3 million to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, with an additional $2 million donation also going to the fund. Uber says that 100 percent of customer donations will go directly to their restaurant of choice.
Previously, Uber said it would waive delivery fees for independent restaurants in an effort to boost businesses that are suffering while the pandemic disrupts daily life. Uber’s food delivery service is also working to deliver free meals to more than 300,000 health care workers as part of its effort.
The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund is managed by the educational fund of the 100-year-old National Restaurant Association, a major lobbying group that represents over 500,000 restaurants. The restaurant industry employees and workers who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment, are eligible to apply for grants from the relief fund. Grant money will be awarded “as soon as possible” to those affected workers after they have been “reviewed and verified by the NRAEF,” according to the group.
Uber is piloting a couple of different contribution amounts to offer as choices to customers who want to donate, a spokesperson said. (Screenshots provided by the company feature a $2 option.)
New York City restaurants that work with Uber Eats received communication from the company on Monday about the new donation effort. Restaurants in Uber’s other markets will be informed of the donation feature in the weeks to come. Uber is not explicitly seeking consent from restaurants before setting up the donate button, but the company says that restaurants can easily opt out if they choose.
Yelp, along with GoFundMe, recently came under fire from restaurant and bar owners for automatically opting tens of thousands of small businesses into fundraisers Unlike Uber, Yelp set up the fundraisers without informing any of the participants. And some restaurants said the opt-out process, in the event they were hosting their own fundraisers or simply did not want one automatically set up by Yelp, was unnecessarily burdensome.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) recently criticized gig economy companies, including Uber, for classifying drivers and delivery workers as independent contractors, which she says cuts them off from “critical rights and protections like minimum wage and benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.”