Herbold, Lewis Support Premium Pay for Frontline Gig Workers

Home » Herbold, Lewis Support Premium Pay for Frontline Gig Workers

Seattle City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park) and Andrew J. Lewis (District 7, Magnolia to Pioneer Square) introduced legislation today to provide gig workers working for food delivery network companies and transportation network companies with premium pay, increasing essential protections for essential workers who are on the frontlines of this pandemic. 

Herbold and Lewis introduced the legislation after many gig workers providing food deliveries and for-hire rides asked for increased protections, including pay for hazardous work, the time spent cleaning their vehicles, and the supplies necessary to do that cleaning. 

“We’re putting our health and wellbeing on the line for others during this pandemic, and we’re making less than ever,” said Ulysses Galvez, an Instacart shopper. “I’m working long hours, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day Monday through Sunday, with short breaks in between when there’s no orders. The PPE from companies is non-existent, so we have to buy our own. Right now I’m putting in about 50 or 60 hours a week on Instacart, but I’m only making about $800 a week including tips, and before factoring in all my expenses. That’s below the minimum wage, and the pay has only gotten lower at a time when we’re taking on extra risk and cost. We deserve fair compensation for this work, and we need hazard pay.”

Council Bill 119799 directs food delivery network companies and transportation network companies to provide gig workers with $5 premium pay per order/ride performed in Seattle during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The legislation prohibits companies from passing the $5 premium pay onto customers. Premium pay would occur until the end of the city’s civil emergency. 

“Frontline workers across the country, from medical professionals to grocery store workers, have received hazard pay to compensate for increased exposure to coronavirus during this pandemic. Our frontline drivers, from food delivery drivers to those who get us from A to B, should also be recognized for being on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Councilmember Lewis. 

“Gig workers come into contact with multiple customers every shift, increasing their risk of exposure while doing their job. Drivers and food delivery workers often spend their own resources while off the clock to disinfect their vehicles to ensure the public remains safe. Premium pay would ensure drivers are equitably paid during this pandemic, and continue to keep their customers safe,” said Councilmember Herbold. 

“I worry about my family who I go home to who are at high risk due to this virus – my 78-year-old grandmother and my mother who is very sick. These days, I often pick up and drop off patients and nurses at the hospital. To protect family and my passengers, I thoroughly clean my car in between every ride – which means additional expenses out of my pocket and unpaid working time off-the-clock. Drivers should be fairly compensated for the extra time, expense and risk due to the pandemic,” said Ikrame Abdi, a Lyft driver.

The legislation requires the hiring entities to pay their gig workers $5 premium pay per order/ride in Seattle, that is separate and apart from drivers’ regular pay, commissions, bonuses and tips. When providing the premium pay, hiring entities would include notification of online orders that qualified for the pay and itemize the pay separately from other compensation.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards will coordinate implementation and enforcement of premium pay for drivers. 

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