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Seattle City Council grants gig workers paid sick time during pandemic

Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation on June 1 that requires app-based delivery companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart and Doordash to provide sick pay to workers amid the city’s declared COVID-19 emergency.

Designed to protect a group of essential workers who otherwise wouldn’t have access sick time due to their status as contractors, the bill allows delivery drivers in the so-called gig economy to accrue one sick day per month, based on their average daily income during each 30-day period.

Some of the companies, including Uber and Lyft, do offer funds to drivers who test positive for coronavirus or are asked by a government agency to quarantine.

One driver who saw his earning disappear early on in the pandemic told GeekWire that he hoped to catch the virus in order to collect funds Uber and Lyft were providing to those diagnosed with COVID-19.

From the time the ordinance goes into effect, drivers will be allowed to use the sick benefits until six months after the city’s civil emergency is over.

If employers do not comply with the law, gig workers have the right to sue for up to three times the amount of unpaid compensation. The bill also comes with a penalty of up to $546 per violation.

Separately, the Seattle City Council is considering an emergency bill that would make app-based transportation companies to add an extra $5 in hazard pay to each gig the drivers complete.

In November, the council expanded protections for gig workers by establishing a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers and requiring new taxes designed in part to establish a dispute resolution center for drivers with complaints. The minimum wage will go into effect July 1.

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

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