Most gig workers paid sick leave under new Seattle law

Mar 29, 2023, 4:56 PM

Gig worker Danielle Alvorado testifies before the Seattle City Council in support of the city provi...

Gig worker Danielle Alvorado testifies before the Seattle City Council in support of the city providing permanent sick and safe time to most gig workers in the city, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Seattle. The City Council voted unanimously to make it permanent for “on-demand” gig workers on apps like DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart. (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times via AP)

(Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times via AP)

SEATTLE (AP) — Most gig workers in Seattle will be permanently entitled to paid sick leave and safe time under a first-in-the-nation law signed by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell on Wednesday. The measure expands pandemic-era protections and strengthens labor rights for app-based workers.

Seattle previously allowed food delivery workers to accrue paid sick and safe time, but that policy was due to expire May 1, six months after the end of the emergency order imposed by the city during the coronavirus pandemic.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to make it permanent for “on-demand” gig workers on apps such as DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart.

“A healthy workforce leads to a healthy community, and no one should have to choose between taking a sick day to care for themselves — or their families — and making rent,” Harrell said.

The measure also expands the categories of workers covered by the policy beyond food delivery, to include those who work for car wash or other apps. Workers who set their own rates, such as those on some pet-sitting apps, will not be covered, however.

Drivers for transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft already earn paid sick and safe time through a state law signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last year.

Seattle in 2012 became one of the first cities to require businesses to provide paid sick leave for gig workers when they have medical appointments or need to help care for a sick relative, and safe leave if they need to care for themselves or a family member because of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

The city expanded the law to cover app-based food delivery workers in 2020, agreed to pay nearly $1 million after denying workers in Seattle sick time.

Making the policy permanent is the latest in a string of victories for labor advocates in the city. The council last spring approved a bill guaranteeing app drivers minimum pay and mileage.

In an emailed statement, Instacart suggested the measure was “misguided.”

“Instacart is willing to work with any policymaker that prioritizes the health and safety of shoppers who choose to earn income through our platform,” it said. “However, at a time of high inflation and tightening household budgets, it is critical that policymakers also take into account the rising financial burden their misguided policy proposals could have on their constituents.”

Nationally, President Joe Biden’s administration has proposed new standards that could make it more difficult to classify millions of workers as independent contractors and deny them minimum wage and benefits.

“I’ve heard from workers on these apps for years that … being forced to work through injuries and sickness was always a huge challenge,” Joel Shapiro, co-founder of the Seattle-based grocery-delivery app Dumpling, told the council. “All workers should have the ability to take sick time when needed, no matter what kind of work they do.”

City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored the measure, thanked the workers for their efforts.

“Our city needs to be taking care of you the way that you’ve taken care of our families,” Mosqueda said before the bill signing. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to protect workers on the front line, protect their health, because your health is good for the population’s health.”

Under the law, workers will accrue one day of paid sick or safe time for every 30 days they make a work-related stop in Seattle. They would be paid their average daily compensation for each calendar day they worked in Seattle over the previous 12 months.

Maria Hernandez, who has worked for apps delivering food since 2019, testified before the council Tuesday that when she had surgery for breast cancer in 2021, doctors told her to take three months off to prepare for radiation. But she had little money in the bank and returned to work after just one month; her company insisted the paid sick leave was only for COVID-related illness, she said.

“This new permanent law will help create more than a free day for anyone who is sick,” she said. “It will give us tranquility and some peace in our hearts.”

United States News

FILE - Homes burn as a wildfire rips through a development near Rock Creek Village, Dec. 30, 2021, ...

Associated Press

Authorities to reveal results of investigation into how Colorado’s worst wildfire started

DENVER (AP) — Authorities say they have wrapped up their investigation into what started the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history and will announce their findings on Thursday. The blaze destroyed nearly 1,100 homes as heavy winds pushed it across the heavily populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder on Dec. 30, 2021. Two people were […]

1 day ago

Kim Adams of the SOAR Initiative, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent drug overdoses in Ohio, packs f...

Associated Press

‘Keep them alive’: More states legalize fentanyl test strips to combat surging opioid deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — At Cleveland’s Urban Kutz Barbershop, customers can flip through magazines as they wait, or help themselves to drug screening tests left out in a box on a table with a somber message: “Your drugs could contain fentanyl. Please take free test strips.” Owner Waverly Willis has given out strips for years […]

1 day ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during an event to commemorate Pride Month, in the East Room of t...

Associated Press

Biden invites thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals, singer Betty Who, to Pride Month celebration

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has invited thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals to celebrate Pride Month in a high-profile show of support at a time when the community feels under attack like never before and the White House has little recourse to beat back a flood state-level legislation against them. Biden was announcing new initiatives […]

1 day ago

FILE - Former President Donald Trump greets supporters before speaking at the Westside Conservative...

Associated Press

The Republican presidential field is largely set. Here are takeaways on where the contest stands.

NEW YORK (AP) — After a trio of new announcements this week, the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential field is all but set. A handful of stragglers may jump in later, but as of now there are at least 10 high-profile Republican candidates officially seeking their party’s nomination. And with the announcement phase of the primary […]

1 day ago

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak watches a drone demonstration as he visits the Friendship Techno...

Associated Press

Biden and Sunak to focus on Ukraine and economic security in British PM’s first White House visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rishi Sunak for wide-ranging talks on Thursday as the British leader makes his first White House visit as premier. The leaders’ Oval Office talks are expected to cover the war in Ukraine, China, economic security, international cooperation on regulating the growing field of artificial intelligence, and more. Biden and Sunak have already […]

1 day ago

FILE - A sign outside the National Security Administration campus in Fort Meade, Md., is seen June ...

Associated Press

AP-NORC poll finds both Democrats, Republicans skeptical of US spying practices

WASHINGTON (AP) — As it pushes to renew a cornerstone law that authorizes major surveillance programs, the Biden administration faces an American public that’s broadly skeptical of common intelligence practices and of the need to sacrifice civil liberties for security. Congress in the coming months will debate whether to extend Section 702 of the Foreign […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Spinal fusion surgery has come a long way, despite misconceptions

As Dr. Justin Field of the Desert Institute for Spine Care explained, “we've come a long way over the last couple of decades.”

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

Most gig workers paid sick leave under new Seattle law