British Columbia is introducing new protections for ride-hailing and food delivery app workers including a minimum wage, compensation for expenses and other standards.
A minimum hourly wage of $20.10, which is $3.35 more than the current general minimum wage, would apply for a gig worker’s ‘engaged time,’ beginning when they accept an assignment to the time of completion.
The rules will also require ride-hail and food deliver platform companies to clarify the amount that drivers will earn on each assignment they accept, says Labour Minister Harry Bains.
The new pay standard, which doesn’t include tips, puts a 20 per cent premium on top of the general minimum wage to account for the time that gig workers spend waiting for assignments.
Bains says the new regulations will give drivers coverage under WorkSafeBC, prohibit platform companies from withholding tips and establish compensation standards for costs such as using a personal vehicle.
The rules, which will require new legislation to implement, are the result of consultation with app-based workers, platform companies, labour groups and business associations. The regulations are expected to be finalized in early 2024.
Gig workers value flexibility but deserve to be treated fairly, says Bains, adding the new regulations will balance the needs of workers while supporting the continuation of app-based services.
Veronique Sioufi, a researcher with the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives, says the new rules are a step in the right direction but don’t go far enough. “These companies lobby really hard against any protections for workers, against having to be held responsible as employers. What’s not clear about this is whether workers are covered by workers’ compensation in that time in between assignments. That’s still risky time.”
Sussanne Skidmore, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, says the new rules fall short because minimum wage coverage fails to include time spent waiting for an assignment or returning from an assignment. She also expressed concern that drivers for app-based services are being denied key protections under the law, like paid sick leave.
In a statement, Uber Technologies Inc. said it “supports government policies that protect the flexibility and independence of app-based workers while offering benefits and protections tailored to the work they do,” adding while the wage guarantee and workers’ compensation coverage is encouraging, the company “will need to review the legislation and regulations closely once available.”
DoorDash Inc. spokesperson Javier Lacayo said in a statement the company supports some of the new rules but not others. “We believe it is wrong to set a premium, higher minimum wage for just one group of workers. This change could make delivery more expensive for consumers and that would mean much less business for restaurants and fewer earning opportunities for workers.”