Seattle City Council unanimously passes premium pay for gig workers amid COVID-19
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The Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation Monday that would provide Seattle's gig economy workers, such as Instacart and DoorDash delivery workers, with premium pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council Bill 119799 states that food delivery companies must provide their drivers with a $2.50 premium pay for each order completed in Seattle during the city's civil emergency, declared by the mayor on March 3.
The legislation is the first of its kind in the nation to give such compensation to gig economy workers and comes as food and grocery delivery has become an essential lifeline to those adhering social distancing guidelines during the pandemic and for restaurants trying to stay in business.
However, many of the workers delivering the food and goods, considered independent contractors, do not receive any benefits from the parent company.
"We heard from many gig workers asking for increased protections, including hazard pay, during the COVID-19 crisis," said councilmember Lisa Herbold, who co-sponsored the bill. "Gig workers are essential workers. They’re working on the frontlines of this crisis providing for our community, including delivering meals and groceries to families and seniors who have to self-isolate. Seattle will always be a place that fights for our most vulnerable and will protect all workers."
The legislation prohibits the parent company from passing off the $2.50 premium pay onto the customer. The pay will be in addition to any tps or bonuses received by the driver.
Councilmember Andrew Lewis, who also co-sponsored the bill, argued that these workers incur many additional costs related to the sanitation of their vehicles and securing personal protective equipment to safely do their work during the pandemic.
"The powerful testimony of app-based food delivery workers showed their needs were not being met, both in pay and in their ability to protect not only themselves, but their families and customers. Premium pay will ensure these gig workers receive minimum compensation, deserved hazard pay, and additional resources to clean their delivery vehicles," Lewis said.
A previous version of the bill included transportation networks, such as Uber and Lyft, to also provide premium compensation to drivers during the city's COVID-19 pandemic. Those companies were not included in the bill passed Monday.
The premium pay will expire when the civil emergency order is lifted.
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