Seattle’s mayor this week signed a law to give tens of thousands of app-based delivery workers paid sick leave, making his city the first in the nation to do so permanently.
The new law, which will be effective May 1 for food delivery companies with 250 or more workers worldwide, extends paid sick and safe leave that was granted to gig workers at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and which was set to expire at the end of April. Among the companies that will have to comply are DoorDash Inc.
Uber Technologies Inc.’s
Uber Eats, Grubhub, Gopuff and more.
“Gig workers stepped up to serve our city during the pandemic and are an essential part of our workforce and economy, and this important legislation ensures the rights of our app-based workers remain protected,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell in a statement Wednesday.
“I’m proud of Seattle being an incubator of good labor standards,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored the ordinance, told MarketWatch on Friday. “We’ve been able to show that literally the sky doesn’t fall” when workers get benefits, she added.
Last year, Harrell signed another first-of-its-kind law that required app-based delivery workers to earn the equivalent of Seattle’s minimum wage. That law, like this one, was pushed by Working Washington, which organizes delivery and other app-based workers.
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“We thank Councilmember Mosqueda, the City Council and Mayor’s office for working together to ensure that workers will see no gap in their access to this critical basic right,” Danielle Alvarado, executive director of Working Washington, said in a statement.
Gig workers’ pay and benefits vary because most of the companies that make the apps that connect them with delivery or other work consider them independent contractors, not employees, and are fighting around the nation and world to keep doing so. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a rule change that could require gig companies to treat gig workers as employees, but gig companies have urged a delay in light of the change in leadership at the agency.
The new Seattle law applies only to delivery workers, not ride-hailing drivers, because Washington state has a law that guarantees wages and paid sick leave for those drivers. That law — backed by Uber, Lyft Inc.
and a local union but opposed by the Teamsters and other labor groups — was signed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last year.
“The state and local bills and Seattle local ordinance are important and innovative in bringing gig workers within the safety net,” said William Gould, professor emeritus at Stanford Law School and a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, on Friday. “On the the employee issue, we should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
See: Uber, Lyft get their first legislative win in campaign to write new labor laws
Under the new Seattle ordinance, app-based delivery workers will accrue one paid sick or safe day for every 30 days worked on an app if at least one stop included Seattle. Workers will also get paid safe time, which according to the ordinance could apply during a public health emergency, “or for any health or safety reason; closure of a family member’s school or place of care; or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.”
Companies must allow workers to carry over up to nine days of accrued paid time to the following calendar year, and cannot retaliate against workers for using their paid sick or safe time. At this time, the law applies only to app-based companies, also known as network delivery companies, that connect delivery workers to customers, but not marketplace companies.
Unlike network delivery companies, marketplace companies allow customers to select a worker to perform a service and allow gig workers to set their own rates, Mosqueda told MarketWatch. An example would be Taskrabbit, where people can find movers and repair people, or the pet-sitting service Rover.
Uber, Grubhub, Instacart and Gopuff did not respond to requests for comment on the new law. A DoorDash spokesperson declined to comment. Last year, gig companies spoke out against the Seattle minimum-wage ordinance.
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