The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance today, sponsored by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold (District 1 – West Seattle and South Park) and Andrew J. Lewis (Pioneer Square to Magnolia), that protects app-based workers from being unreasonably deactivated from their platforms.
The App-Based Workers Deactivations Rights Ordinance, the latest PayUp legislation, requires network companies to base deactivations on reasonable policies and provide app-based workers with notice, records, and human review of all deactivations. App-based work, such as on-demand food delivery, pet sitting, or grocery shopping is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in our economy. While ride-hailing app-based workers already have deactivation protections in Washington State, this legislation is the first to cover app-based workers who perform delivery and other personal services.
“App-based work is work. It is done by human beings who deserve a stable work environment. Their livelihoods should not hinge on the decisions of an algorithm,” said Councilmember Herbold. “This law, the first of its kind in the nation, will protect app-based workers from arbitrary deactivation and give them meaningful recourse to appeal to a human being if they are deactivated. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in deep community engagement and difficult dialogue, doing their part to stand up for these workers.”
“Many people in our community are becoming increasingly reliant on app-based work to make a living,” said Councilmember Lewis. “This law protects that critical livelihood from being snatched away for arbitrary or frivolous reasons. It is an important step forward to set a national standard for protections in this growing segment of our economy.”
This legislation has been in the works for more than two years, first discussed at Council as part of the PayUp suite of legislation in April of 2021. The bill language was introduced in June 2023.
Local app-based workers have voiced their frustration with the deactivation process. Without any warning, computer algorithms with no human review have been able to ban people from their ability to get work on the apps. Many report being deactivated for reasons completely outside of their control. Others never find out why they were deactivated at all. When workers try to challenge their deactivation, they often report a lack of substantive response from companies and are given little recourse.
The University of Washington recently released a report about app-based ride-hail drivers facing deactivations, which found that deactivations had widespread economic, emotional, and racial ramifications, and most workers did not know why they were deactivated or how to appeal the decision. App-based workers covered by this new law also face similar difficulties.
What this legislation does
This legislation creates more stability and job security for app-based workers by protecting them from unreasonable deactivations. The bill creates common-sense guidelines for notices of deactivation, establishes timelines, creates processes for challenges and appeals, and requires more transparency from network companies, including human review of deactivations – not only algorithms.
“App-based workers are an essential part of our city’s economy and deserve protections against sudden deactivations that can significantly threaten their ability to make a livelihood,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This legislation establishes new standards to ensure that these workers have a fair chance to challenge deactivations that may be unjust or unfounded. Combined with our first-in-the-nation paid sick and safe time benefits and minimum payment ordinance for app-based workers, this suite of bills shows that Seattle remains committed to being a place where all workers are treated with dignity and respect.”
“Seattle workers are once again raising the bar,” said Danielle Alvarado, Executive Director of Working Washington. “This policy, along with the right to minimum pay and sick time, have made Seattle the best place in the nation to do gig work. The gig economy is booming and it’s thanks to the workers who fought for this bill. As a result of workers’ tireless leadership over the past three years, Seattle will continue to be a city where all work is respected. Passing this policy today means workers will have more stable livelihoods, remain housed, access medical care, and meet their basic needs.”
Seattle continues to lead the nation on labor protections for app-based workers. With this latest bill, the City has passed legislation creating minimum payment guarantees, paid sick and safe time, and protections from unreasonable deactivations for app-based workers.
The legislation now heads to the Mayor for his signature and will take on January 1, 2025 after it’s approved. If it’s not signed by the Mayor within 10 days, then the new law will go into effect on January 1, 2025. The Mayor also has the option to veto the legislation.