Seattle Council Approves Hazard Pay For Food Delivery Drivers

Charles Woodman

SEATTLE, WA — Seattle City Council has voted to give extra hazard pay to food delivery drivers who have continued to work despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, council members voted 9 - 0 in favor of CB 119979, which will require that food delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Amazon Fresh pay their drivers an extra $2.50 for each delivery they make during the pandemic. The new legislation also forbids companies from passing the hazard pay surcharge on to customers.

The bill's authors says these gig workers have been working hard to keep Seattle fed, and deserve to be paid for their work in the middle of a nationwide pandemic:

Gig workers working during the COVID-19 emergency merit additional compensation because they are performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship that can cause extreme physical discomfort and distress due to the significant risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Gig workers have been working under these hazardous conditions for months. They are working in these hazardous conditions now and will continue to face safety risks as the virus presents an ongoing threat for an uncertain period, potentially resulting in subsequent waves of infection.

The bill, first sponsored by councilmembers Herbold and Lewis, passed alongside an amendment from councilmember Moralez adding several additional protections. Under the amendment, delivery companies can not:

  • Cut driver pay to counteract the hazard pay raise.
  • Change which parts of the city they serve to skirt the raise either.
  • Limit the amount of money a gig worker can make or restrict their access to online orders.
  • Add customer charges to online orders for delivery of groceries.

The move was celebrated online by low-wage worker advocacy group Working Washington:

"If these multi-billion-dollar delivery apps want to do business in Seattle, they're going to have to pay up," said Working Washington Executive Director Rachel Lauter. ”The coronavirus pandemic has been a boom for Instacart, DoorDash and the rest of these companies, but the people who do the work are seeing low pay, high risk, and few safety protections. It’s about time essential delivery workers got hazard pay for their essential work during this crisis.”

Working Washington says food delivery companies have been raking in money during the pandemic, while workers have been left underpaid while working at higher risk because of the pandemic. Grubhub in particular was just part of a $7.3 billion merger with a European delivery service, making it one of the world's largest delivery companies. DoorDash and Instacart have also received hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments as their businesses have grown in recent weeks.

The hazard pay guarantee was passed as a type of emergency legislation, meaning it goes into effect immediately, but expires when the coronavirus emergency is over.

This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch