A Foodpanda driver who was critically injured in an accident may have been given just HK$50 (US$6.50) as part of his insurance policy, highlighting the lack of protection for workers whose services the city has come to rely on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, a 47-year-old driver who works for the food delivery giant collided with a seven-seater car in Sha Tin. The driver, Taddy Pong, was flung off his motorbike, suffering a severe head injury that left him unconscious. He was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital for emergency surgery, according to HK01.

He remained in critical condition after the surgery and is still in the intensive care unit.

It’s unclear whether Pong is employed by Foodpanda, or if he works as a freelancer.

According to the Foodpanda website, freelancers are entitled to a maximum of just HK$50 (US$6.50) a day for a maximum of 15 days if they are hospitalized, which means Pong would be receiving only this meager sum if he is freelancing for the company.

Accidental death or disablement is insured by a payment of up to HK$100,000 (US$12,900).

Coconuts has reached out to Foodpanda for comment but is yet to hear back at the time of writing.

In a Facebook post, Sha Tin district councillor Yau Man-chun said that Pong is an avid volunteer in the community. Sharing pictures of him with his family, Yau wrote: “He loves his wife and son dearly. He is a good father and a good husband.”

The 33-year-old driver of the car that collided with Pong’s motorbike has been arrested on charges of dangerous driving.

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Since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in January, food delivery drivers (and “runners,” the term for those who deliver their orders by foot) have become unsung heroes of sorts, exposing themselves to the risks of the virus while serving the swaths of the city’s population able to shield from the virus at home.

In May, drivers with delivery company Deliveroo held a days-long strike to protest against a new payment structure that they say would see them earning less despite the high-risk nature of their job.

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