Seattle to provide new protections for local independent contractors
Seattle’s Independent Contractor Protections (ICP) Ordinance, passed last year under the SMC 14.34 bill, which is now going into effect today. The municipal code requires employers to provide independent contractors with disclosures prior to entering a contract as well as at the time of payment.
In addition, employers must provide timely payment under the terms of their contracts with freelance employees and independent contractors. If unspecified, then an employer has just 30 days after a contract is completed to pay the contractor.
“When I first started as an independent art contractor, sometimes I felt like I was being treated less than or taken advantage of with my time or asked for an extension of payment, only because there was no specific law attached,” Shayla Hufana, a local independent contractor, and artist said in a press release. “I’m glad to know that the city has created this ordinance and thought about independent contractors like me. I believe this new ordinance will help everything to run smoothly.”
Hufana encourages up-and-coming independent contractors to use the ordinance to keep “difficult employers” from taking advantage of a contract.
The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) is providing multiple resources on this law, including a notice of rights workplace poster, model pre-work written notices, model written notices, itemized payment information, and a fact sheet. The most updated resources can be found and downloaded on the resources page.
This ordinance currently covers self-employed independent contractors who have no employees, perform any part of their work in Seattle for a commercial hiring entity, and will receive or expect at least $600 in compensation from the hiring entity between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.
“As a public artist, I often have sub-contractors that I need to pay,” Jasmine Iona Brown, an independent contractor and artist said. “It helps with my cash flow to get timely payment from my clients to pass on to my subcontractors. My accountant and I would also appreciate written payment notices to help with my bookkeeping and taxes. Payments for my public art projects are often split into multiple payments stretched out over months or even years.”
Uber and Lyft have long argued that classifying drivers as contractors, rather than employees, is necessary for their apps to work efficiently, according to a New York Times opinion piece written by the chief executive officer of Uber. This fueled a public debate over the labeling of rideshare drivers as employees or independent contractors. It is unclear if this ordinance affects rideshare drivers.
Under bill HB2076, passed earlier this year, Washington State passed legislation ensuring Uber and Lyft drivers are not considered employees, as they are not given specific schedules by ride-sharing companies, and do not have non-compete contracts, keeping them categorized as independent contractors.
Despite not having an employee status, HB2076 offers drivers some benefits — including sick leave and minimum wage standards when they have a passenger in the car.
The bill does not require companies to provide health insurance.