Coronavirus: What measures are Bolt taking?

March 19, 2020

How is Bolt helping drivers during this time of financial hardship

As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to spread throughout the world, we wanted to clarify how our services are affected. Learn more about the measures we as a company are taking to minimise the spread of the virus. Also, we outline the support we’re offering drivers and where you can get the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding the outbreak.

Are Bolt’s services affected?

Bolt’s ride-hailing service is still operational. We are working closely with local health authorities and TfL in case changes need to be made to the level of service that we can provide.

As of the 23rd of March, the UK Government has advised the public to stay home and to only travel when it is an essential need such as:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example, food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible;
  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

We will continue our operations to provide transport for absolutely essential travel. The well-being and safety of our drivers and passengers is Bolt’s main priority and is frequently under review as we closely follow the UK government’s response.

What precautions are being taken by Bolt?

Earlier this month, we sent our drivers information about the measures they could take to prevent the spread of the virus. We also shared a link to the NHS coronavirus webpage which lists preventative measures such as:

  1. Staying at home if you feel unwell.
  2. Washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitiser.
  3. Covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then disposing of the used tissue immediately.
  4. Avoiding close contact with anyone who is unwell.

On the 16th of March, the Bolt Hub was closed as an added safety measure. Driver support, however, is still fully operational online.

We are also closely monitoring feedback from drivers and passengers who report witnessing COVID-19 symptoms during a trip. We are in conversation with the relevant public health authorities and are ready to temporarily suspend the accounts of any drivers or riders who we have good reason to suspect present a health risk to others. Bolt’s customer support team has developed processes to address COVID-19 queries as a priority.

How is Bolt helping drivers during this time of financial hardship?

We recognise that some drivers have had or will have to stop driving to keep themselves and others safe. Being self-employed, this puts a major strain on their financial situation.

As a result, and to reflect these circumstances, we plan to offer financial assistance to drivers who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or who have been instructed to self-isolate by their doctor, other healthcare professional or Public Health England. The design of this assistance has stemmed from close consultation with one of the UK’s leading trade unions, GMB, which is happy to support and endorse what’s been put in place.

Bolt Driver Assistance

1. This is a one-off policy introduced by Bolt related to the COVID-19 virus. The rules of this policy will be valid from Monday the 16th  of March 2020 and ending on the 1st of June 2020 or until the guidance from Public Health England changes significantly. In either case the rules of the policy will be reviewed by Bolt.

2. You must notify Bolt in accordance with this policy that you have been unwell within the defined period (16th March –  1st of June 2020) to be eligible for Bolt Driver Assistance.

3. Bolt Driver Assistance will be offered to Bolt drivers who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or who have been instructed to self-isolate by their doctor, another appropriate healthcare professional or Public Health England.

4. To be eligible for Bolt Driver Assistance you must meet the following driver conditions:

a) You must have completed at least 150 trips in the 6 weeks leading up to your request for assistance and

b) You must have an active driver account with Bolt for the last 6 weeks. This period will be calculated from the day you completed your first trip with Bolt.

Some assistance requests made by drivers who have not had an active account on the Bolt platform for 6 weeks may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

E.g. In the event that you have had an active Bolt account for less than 6 weeks and completed more than 150 trips.

5. In addition, you must submit your request to Bolt within 48 hours of self-isolation. Assistance requests made to Bolt beyond outside of this period will not be eligible for Bolt Driver Assistance. For more information on the coronavirus symptoms please refer to the Public Health of England guidelines.  If this applies to you, we encourage you to get in touch with us through an in-app message in the Driver’s App. You can also call us at 0808 169 8818. We will be taking your details and then contacting you for further information in order to offer assistance.

6. Assistance requests must include the following information in order for Bolt to be able to review the request:

  • Inform Bolt whether you contracted the virus or if you are required to self-isolate (and by whom).
  • Include the date that you contracted the virus or started your self-isolation.
  • You must include one of the following documents stating that you either have contracted the virus or advising you to self-isolate:

i.  A signed doctor’s note (from a UK registered doctor).

ii. A letter or an email from Public Health England.

iii. A signed self-certification in the appropriate Bolt format.

The documentation provided must correspond to your self-isolation dates. Assistance requests can’t be reviewed or processed if any of the information above is not provided.

7. Bolt will keep your information and documentation with regards to your request on file for a period of 6 months after which it will be deleted (except in cases of fraudulent assistance requests where these may be kept longer).

8. In an effort to protect public health, Bolt will report your request to TFL and may advise other private hire licensed operators such as but not limited to Uber, Kapten or Ola. By making your assistance request you provide your explicit consent to Bolt to share your information with TFL and other operators.

9. You will be compensated for up to 14 days and will receive one hundred pounds (£100) per week. A day rate may be applied depending on your case. E.g. In the event that you are eligible for 8 days of compensation, you will receive one hundred and fourteen pounds and twenty-nine pence (£114.29).

10. Your compensation will be paid out in your driver account as per Bolt’s normal payment cycle. You will be able to identify this compensation by the reference “Driver Assistance”.

11. Once you notify Bolt that you have been sick, Bolt will suspend your driver account for the period that you are required to self-isolate in accordance with the Public Health of England guidelines.

12. Please note that this policy will only be approved once per eligible Bolt driver, drivers can’t make more than one successful assistance request.

13. Bolt will respond to your assistance request within 72 hours, provided you have submitted all correct documentation.

14. Bolt reserves the right to suspend or claim back money paid pursuant to this Assistance Policy in cases of fraudulent claims and also take appropriate action against drivers in accordance with Bolt’s Terms and Conditions.

Policy updates

The following two updates have been made to the policy above in an effort to assist more drivers:

  • The rules of the policy have been extended on numerous occasions, the latest update was made on the 11th of May where Bolt decided to extend the policy further to the 1st of June 2020, or until the guidance from Public Health England changes significantly.

  • We have recognised that business is likely to have slowed down in the last few weeks as a result of government guidelines. Therefore drivers must have completed 150 trips in the six weeks leading up to their claim or six weeks before lockdown was announced on the 23rd of March 2020.

We’ve assembled this plan so we can start helping affected drivers as soon as possible. We aim to assist all Bolt drivers that qualify for assistance. Please note, Bolt reserves the right to approve or decline any request for assistance in consideration of other factors not outlined above. Nothing in this policy is intended to give rise to contractual terms and conditions. Operation of this policy shall be entirely at Bolt’s discretion.

Mick Rix, National Officer, GMB Union said: “In these challenging times, those working in the gig economy are some of the most vulnerable and at risk of having no income whatsoever. Drivers undertaking services for Bolt have already seen the market collapse as the country faces a major economic shock due to COVID-19. I think many drivers, although worried about the immediate future, will be assured that Bolt has genuine good business ethics and values, and cares for its drivers. GMB is happy to support and endorse what Bolt has now put in place.”

Where can I get up-to-date information about Coronavirus?

Regularly check for updates from the Department of Health & Social Care and the NHS. Both of these resources will provide you with the most up-to-date information about the UK Government’s response and the latest precautionary measures.

Stay safe.

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