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Seattle City Council considers changes to gig worker minimum wage law


(The Center Square) – The Seattle City Council has begun discussions on a proposed bill that would amend the city’s App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance.

The bill, sponsored by Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson, attempts to reduce labor costs for network companies, while still guaranteeing a minimum earnings standard for app-based workers.

Council Bill 120775 would remove minimum wage adjustments, reduce the per-mile rate, and remove the mileage factor from the current minimum wage law, resulting in a minimum payment standard of $19.97 per hour, along with 35 cents per mile for engaged time while driving. Tips would not be included in the minimum payment.

The current ordinance requires a minimum network company payment of 44 cents per minute and 74 cents per mile for time spent and miles traveled.

In response to the law enacted on Jan. 13, companies like Doordash implemented regulatory fees, causing the cost of orders to increase significantly.

“This legislation would still give app-based workers the right to accept or reject any offer and to schedule work when they want – it still would prohibit companies from retaliating against app-based workers exercising any and all kinds of their rights,” Nelson said at a Seattle Governance, Accountability and Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday.

According to a fiscal note, amending the App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance would likely have financial impacts for the Seattle Office of Labor Standards, as it could see additional costs to revise rules.

The Office of Labor Standards received about $493,000 to implement the current App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance in the 2024 budget.

There could also be impacts on the Seattle City Attorney’s Office for advising the Office of Labor Standards on the revised rules and enforcement procedures.

According to a survey conducted last month of more than 500 app-based delivery drivers from the Washington state-based driver advocacy non-profit, Drive Forward, the wait time between orders has shifted from 41% of drivers waiting less than five minutes before Jan. 13 when the law went into effect to 56% of drivers waiting more than 30 minutes after that date.

Earnings per hour with the inclusion of tips has dropped between 11% and 50%.

Recent data from DoorDash also revealed that in a six-week period after the law took effect earlier this year, city retailers have earned roughly $7 million less than expected.

Consideration of any possible amendments to the proposed bill would be considered before a final committee vote on May 9. The bill could be presented to the full Seattle City Council for a final vote as early as May 21.