New laws in Seattle and Washington State allow certain gig workers greater access to traditional employee benefits.
Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Leave
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell signed into law the App-Based Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance on March 29, 2023. Among other things, this law requires that app-based workers accrue at least one day of paid sick and paid safe time for every 30 days with at least one work-related stop in Seattle, and that network companies allow certain app-based workers to carry over at least nine days of accrued, unused paid sick and paid safe time to the following year.
The ordinance goes into effect on May 1, 2023, for food delivery network company workers in Seattle who work with a network company with more than 250 app-based workers worldwide (including workers at chains, integrated enterprises, and franchises). Starting January 13, 2024, this new ordinance will apply broadly to all Seattle app-based workers who work with a network company with more than 250 app-based workers worldwide. With limited exceptions, the law defines a “network company” as an entity that uses an online-enabled application or platform to connect customers with app-based workers, presents offers to those workers through a platform, and facilitates the provision of those services.
At present, the ordinance does not cover “marketplace network companies” where workers set their own rates, but the Seattle City Council is considering separate legislation to cover such entities.
In the next few months, Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards will release guidance on this ordinance and begin formal rulemaking.
Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave and Unemployment Insurance
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is poised to sign Substitute House Bill 1570, which would expand the rights of drivers for transportation network companies (TNC drivers) under the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. Currently, Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act allows all self-employed workers in Washington, including TNC drivers, to pay premiums for elective coverage under the law. Once signed, however, under a new pilot program, from July 1, 2024, to December 31, 2028, TNCs would need to pay drivers (who elect coverage and file a notice with the state) an amount equal to their self-employment premiums. Drivers would be eligible for this paid leave after working 820 hours in Washington during the qualifying period.
The bill would also provide unemployment insurance to TNC drivers in Washington.