Jun 1, 2022 - Politics

Seattle sets minimum wage for app-based delivery drivers

Illustration of a smiley face  plastic bag, but the smiley face is replaced with the money-tongue emoji.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The Seattle City Council passed legislation 9-0 Tuesday to try to ensure that delivery apps like DoorDash, UberEats and Instacart pay their workers at least minimum wage.

Why it matters: App-based delivery drivers are classified as independent contractors, so they aren't covered by minimum wage laws or certain other worker protections.

Driving the news: The legislation requires delivery apps to pay drivers a per-mile fee and a per-minute fee.

  • Those minimum payments are supposed to get drivers to a wage roughly equal to Seattle's minimum wage of $17.27 per hour.
  • The minimum payments include an additional cushion to help drivers cover payroll taxes, workers compensation fees and other work-related expenses they must pay as independent contractors.
  • Drivers can still receive tips on top of that.

Yes, but: The new legislation doesn't apply to workers who take jobs on apps such as Rover or TaskRabbit.

What they're saying: City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, one of the sponsors of the legislation, said more people are turning to app-based work but "not receiving the protections of basic labor standards."

  • "The passage of this legislation today would help tens of thousands of delivery workers make ends meet, while maintaining their flexibility," Herbold said during Tuesday's council meeting.

The other side: DoorDash opposed the measure, saying the new rules will end up hurting drivers by increasing costs and causing customers to place fewer orders.

What's next: A spokesperson for Mayor Bruce Harrell said the mayor plans to sign the measure into law.

  • The new payment minimums for delivery drivers will take effect in January 2024.
  • Council members also plan to look at other measures to help gig workers, including new laws governing restroom breaks and protection from discrimination.
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