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Gig workers: unsung heroes and a strategic role in the UK national response to the COVID-19 pandemic
University of Manchester
Key Focus of Study
With surging numbers of total confirmed cases and deaths, the UK has entered the most stringent social distancing stage in history. Of all the key worker groups, delivery workers is the one has most gig workers who are precariously employed. Huge spikes in demand have been reported by supermarkets, online grocers and food delivery services. The employers have responded by hiring more workers or requiring existing employees to work longer shifts. Certain epidemiological characteristics of the COVID-19, namely subclinical transmission, incubation period and varying viability on surfaces, present significant challenges to protect delivery workers. We aim to understand, based on different scenarios of risk mitigation measures and social distancing strategies, 1) how delivery workers contribute to the UK’s national response by delivering to households and hence reduce number of outgoing trips; and 2) how delivery workers could potentially contribute to transmission. We will collect data from key stakeholders of the sector to understand how the supply chains and delivery workers responded to the COVID19 outbreak and to build scenarios for mathematical modelling. Using these models we will assess the impact (positive and negative) of current delivery activities, as well as additional scenarios reflecting stricter lockdown conditions, taking into account effect of risk mitigation measures, by considering the number and nature of contacts they made in the communities (including vulnerable groups). Household transmission models will be used with external forcing into households and infection back to gig workers directly considered.
April 2020 - December 2021
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