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Seattle City Council grants Uber, Lyft drivers minimum wage

Washington state lawmakers eye California "Uber law"

Seattle City Council expanded protections for gig economy workers Monday, establishing a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers and passing new taxes that will go in part to establishing a dispute resolution center for aggrieved drivers.

The new legislation, which enshrines Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s “Fare Share” program, appears to be a win for workers welcoming more protections amid the uncertainties of the gig economy.

The minimum wage, which is still being calculated and scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2020, is the latest example of nationwide reforms sweeping the on-demand gig economy.

In September, California passed a landmark bill, known as AB 5, requiring some gig employers, including Uber and Lyft, to treat self-employed contractors like regular employees by providing those workers with a minimum wage, health insurance, overtime pay, unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits.

While Seattle’s new law isn’t as comprehensive, it signals the willingness of Seattle leaders to support the trend of expanding workers rights in the so-called “side-hustle” or gig economy, which has offered people new ways to earn money without committing to one employer. However, for some, that freedom has come at the expense of worker protections and benefits offered by traditional employers.

In addition to the minimum wage, Seattle leaders passed a new tax on rides originating in Seattle that will go toward creating a Driver Resolution Center, designed to mediate disputes between the ride-hailing companies and drivers who have been removed from the apps.

The new laws build on the Seattle City Council’s reputation for passing worker protection laws and business regulations, such as the $15 minimum wage and more recent anti-harassment laws for hotel workers.

The council is expected to continue that trend after elections earlier this month disappointed pro-business interests seeking to sway its outcome.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us at if you have a question about your employment status, or if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, injury, or employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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