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Seattle expands paid sick leave to more app-based workers

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Photo: carterdayne/iStockphoto

Seattle — Food-delivery drivers and other app-based workers in Seattle will be the first in the country to receive permanent paid sick and safe time benefits.

Mayor Bruce Harrell (D) signed C.B. 120514 into law March 29 – after a 9-0 vote of approval from the city council.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (D), is based on temporary measures that began in spring 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures were aimed at protecting gig workers – specifically food-delivery drivers and workers using ride-sharing apps. It allowed them to accrue paid leave to care for themselves or an ill family member, or go to medical appointments (examples of sick time); or care for their children in the event of school closures or address issues related to domestic violence (examples of safe time).

The temporary measures were set to expire April 30 – six months after the declared state of emergency ended.

Under the law, which will go into effect May 1 for food-delivery companies, workers will accrue one day of sick leave for every 30 days worked on the app that includes stops in Seattle. While taking leave, an app-based workers’ pay will be based on their average daily compensation. Time can be used in daylong increments.

Other gig workers to be covered by the law, which applies to companies with 250 or more app-based workers worldwide, include those involved in laundry services, car washes and grocery delivery. They’re set to begin receiving benefits on Jan. 13, 2024. Ride-share companies are already covered by a state law that provides sick leave protections.

Companies that the law applies to must create accessible systems for workers to check and request their paid sick and safe time.

“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 in a press release. “Gig workers stepped up to serve our city during the pandemic and are an essential part of our workforce and economy.”

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