Paid sick, safe time now permanent for Seattle app-based workers

May 1, 2023, 11:10 AM | Updated: 11:20 am

paid sick and safe time...

(Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

(Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Seattle became the first city in the nation to implement permanent paid sick and safe time benefits for app-based gig workers.

The city council, anchored by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and Mayor Bruce Harrell, passed Council Bill 120514 by a unanimous 9-0 vote at the end of March.

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Seattle originally passed a temporary law in 2020 to grant sick and safe time to app-based workers, but the temporary benefits were set to expire in April with the conclusion of the city’s pandemic-based emergency order.

We want to ensure everyone has the time to get well, recover, and help members of their family when they’re ill – whether you deliver dinner, drop off laundry, or provide any service on these apps,” Mosqueda said. “Workers shouldn’t have to choose between staying home to care for themselves or their loved ones and losing a day’s income. Now if you feel sick, you can stay home and recover knowing you will still have your day’s wages to put food on the table or pay the mortgage.

“Paid sick and safe leave isn’t just the right thing to do for individuals, it’s also vitally important to protect public health,” Mosqueda continued. “During the last three years of the pandemic, we’ve learned that a strong sick leave policy is vital for a healthy community and a healthy economy.

The bill applies to companies with at least 250 app-based employees.

With the passing of this law, workers will accrue one day of sick leave for every 30 days worked, as long as part of their work in the given month occurs within Seattle.

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. “Gig workers stepped up to serve our city during the pandemic and are an essential part of our workforce and economy, and this important legislation ensures the rights of our app-based workers remain protected.”

Seattle continues to lead the way for rights in the workplace among app-based employees. Last year, the city passed a first-of-its-kind legislation, coined PayUp, that guarantees app-based delivery drivers a minimum wage while protecting employment flexibility.

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The law goes into effect May 1 for food delivery companies. Paid sick and safe time benefits will be available to the other app-based workers covered in the legislation on Jan. 13, 2024. 

“Gig workers in Seattle are facing serious trouble, and permanent paid sick and safe time would help us gig workers have some reliability to deal with the things that might come up in our lives,” said Wei Lin, a gig worker for Gopuff and member of the PayUp campaign, during the city council meeting. “I appreciate what the Seattle City Council has done to address this issue so that I can be there for the people I care about.”

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Paid sick, safe time now permanent for Seattle app-based workers