Instacart settles over Seattle’s gig worker sick pay law

Mar 26, 2024, 3:21 PM


Jen Valencia shops for a customer as she supplements her income working for Instacart. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Instacart will pay $730,041 dollars to settle claims it violated Seattle’s law that provides gig workers paid sick leave.

The law took effect during the COVID-19 pandemic on July 13, 2020. It was made permanent on May 1, 2023, under the city’s App-Based Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.

Instacart statement to KIRO Newsradio:

“The Seattle Gig Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) ordinance was introduced as Instacart and other app-based companies were rapidly responding to the pandemic in 2020, and expired last year. Despite the complicated nature of the ordinance, Instacart worked diligently to comply and paid out millions of dollars to eligible shoppers. We will continue to comply with all regulations, including the now-permanent PSST ordinance, as we provide a positive experience for shoppers on our platform.”

Background of the law: Showdown over added delivery app fees hits Seattle streets

In a statement, Office of Labor Standards Director Steven Marchese said, “The pandemic-era Gig Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, along with its permanent successor, was created to provide fundamental fairness in the workplace and strengthen Seattle’s economy.”

Under the law, app-based workers accrue one day of PSST for every 30 days they’ve had at least one work-related stop in Seattle.

Workers who have worked in Seattle at least once in the past 90 calendar days may use PSST in 24-hour increments for any reason covered by the ordinance, such as:

  • To care for themselves or a family member for a physical or mental health condition, including a doctor’s appointment.
  • To care for themselves, a family member, or a household member for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • When their family member’s school or place of care has been closed.
  • If the company reduces, suspends, or discontinues operations for health or safety-related reasons.

More background: Delivery apps adding a side dish of ‘worry’ for restaurants, customers

Seattle’s gig worker sick leave law is separate from the city’s App-based worker minimum pay ordinance, which took effect on January 13, 2024.

Critics said the minimum pay ordinance has prompted app-based companies to add fees, which has prompted a decline in customer orders, which they said harms both gig drivers and the restaurants that rely on them.

City Council President Sara Nelson confirmed she is in talks with app-based companies and their drivers about modifying the gig drivers minimum wage law, but she stops short of calling it a rollback.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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