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Council Passes Premium Pay for Frontline Gig Workers During COVID Crisis

Bill by Herbold, Lewis protects app-based food delivery workers

SEATTLE – Seattle City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park) and Andrew J. Lewis (District 7, Magnolia to Pioneer Square), alongside their Council colleagues, unanimously voted for legislation today that provides premium pay for gig workers working for food delivery network companies in Seattle. 

Council Bill 119799 directs food delivery network companies, such as Postmates and GrubHub, to provide gig workers with or $2.50premium pay per order performed in Seattle during the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

Herbold and Lewis introduced the bill recognizing gig workers are hired as “independent contractors,” and therefore don’t have access to employee protections such as minimum compensation or safety standards.

“We heard from many gig workers asking for increased protections, including hazard pay, during the COVID-19 crisis. 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,” said Herbold.

“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.

“I have two young children, a five-year-old and a 7-month-old. It’s very difficult to care for my family on the income from gig work — before the crisis, even on a good week, I couldn’t even bring in $600. Some of the companies I work for, like Grubhub, haven’t even sent over any PPE. Gig workers need hazard pay because we are on the front lines. Especially here in Seattle, our risk of exposure is incredibly high,” said Vita Haygood, a worker for Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart.

“While our economy is at risk due to quarantine, Instacart is cashing in more than ever. They had a huge opportunity to prove they care about the essential workers who do what their corporate employees would never do: shop in stores with COVID-19 floating around everywhere. Instead, they refused to offer hazard pay, overhired, and actually decreased pay. I have gone from making a reasonable income to questioning my ability to put food on the table, all while Instacart rolls out more and more public statements to fool consumers. It’s time we get treated according to the risk we are facing every day.” Shenaya Birkel, Instacart worker

The legislation requires companies to give their employees premium pay until the end of the city’s civil emergency, which was enacted on March 3, 2020. 

The legislation prohibits companies from passing the or $2.50 premium pay onto customers ordering delivery of groceries, and can’t be counted as part of customer tips, bonuses, and commissions.

A previous version of the premium pay legislation included transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft. The bill’s sponsors opted to remove TNCs, recognizing the City is already implementing its “Fare Share” legislation, which would guarantee a minimum compensation standards for TNC drivers that is equivalent to Seattle’s minimum wage.  

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

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