New protections | Seattle's new law is a landmark case for the gig economy

Seattle's new law is a landmark case for the gig economy

In July of 2020, in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers in Seattle passed a landmark piece of legislation protecting gig economy workers from companies such as DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Instacart.

Called the ‘Gig Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance’, the new proposal aimed to do exactly what it promised’ give gig economy workers more assurance that the pandemic would not pose an existential threat to their careers.

The unusual ordinance essentially put gig economy workers on the same footing as full-time salaried professionals, conventionally, these benefits have only been available to traditional employees.

The law was by all accounts designed to be temporary, and was therefore due to expire at the end of April. However, in a new surprising turn of events, lawmakers in Seattle have instead opted to make the move permeant, guaranteeing gig workers will continue to have access to such rights.

According to the new rule, which continues to cover the workers of app-based delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats, gig workers will receive one day of paid sick time for every 30 days with at least one work-related stop in Seattle.

They will also receive up to nine days of accrued paid sick time can roll over to the next calendar year, although the precise amount being covered by the agreement will depend on the amount made on average over the previous 12 months.

Coverage by The Verge also confirmed that workers will get paid “safe time” they can take when companies suspend services for health or safety reasons, if a family member’s school or place of care closes, or while they’re obtaining services to deal with domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

The law will start covering food delivery workers on May 1 and will expand to cover other gig work companies on January 13, 2024.

Whilst the new law is currently only contained within Seattle, many other parts of the country may soon follow suit if it’s deemed a success.

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