Seattle ‘Pay Up’ Legislation Created to Support Gig Workers

Seattle’s City Council has unanimously passed the “Pay Up” bill, designed to improve working conditions and compensation for on-demand gig workers, increasing wages and mileage reimbursement for the region’s app-based labor pool. Beginning in 2023, apps including DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats will be required to pay delivery drivers per-minute and per-mile rates, with the clock ticking the minute the drivers accept an order. Pay Up is the first step in Seattle’s ongoing effort to protect app-based workers, which one councilmember called “one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy.”

Increasing numbers of workers are “turning toward this type of work and not receiving the protections of basic labor standards,” councilmember and bill co-sponsor Lisa Herbold said in The Seattle Times.

Pay Up, which has been in development for about a year, ”is designed to allow contract workers to earn the city’s $17.27 minimum wage and receive the standard mileage reimbursement set by the Internal Revenue Service,” reports The Seattle Times.

In addition to establishing standards for expense reimbursement above their contract wage and excluding tips, the bill will “create transparency for app-based companies, requiring them to share information up-front regarding pay, tips, and details of each job” and “prevent companies from penalizing workers based on the shifts and jobs that they accept,” according to GeekWire.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that a gig worker ballot battle is heating up in Massachusetts, reminiscent of the fight that took place in California less than two years ago. “The Massachusetts proposition would guarantee workers a minimum wage but limit their access to other benefits offered to regular employees, similar to the ballot measure in California,” NYT writes, noting that “as in California, state judges could thwart the multimillion-dollar campaign being waged by gig companies.”

The effort is part of “a broader reassessment of whether the gig economy exploits those who work in it,” per NYT, writing that last week five U.S. senators and three members of the House of Representatives “sent letters to various gig companies, criticizing them for what the lawmakers say is their practice of misclassifying employees as independent contractors. The lawmakers are also demanding that the companies release detailed reports describing the dangers that drivers face.”

The demand follows a report from advocacy group Gig Workers Rising that says at least 50 drivers have been killed on the job in the past five years. The lawmakers are asking for a response by June 22.