Skip to main content

You make this possible. Support our independent, nonprofit newsroom today.

Give Now

Seattle moves to mandate paid sick time for food delivery drivers

Ubereats Generic Via Unsplash
Enlarge Icon
Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

The workers who deliver your takeout and groceries could soon be guaranteed paid sick time in Seattle.

The Seattle City Council introduced a proposal this week that would require services like UberEats and Instacart to give workers paid time off to recover from an illness or deal with other safety related issues.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company is supportive of the plan, with small tweaks. Uber wants paid sick time to accrue on an hourly basis — rather than daily — to make it easier to implement. Other food-delivery companies did not respond to requests for comment. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said industry isn't pushing back on the plan.

The proposal doesn’t cover everyone who gets work using an app. Drivers for transportation network services, like Lyft, already have paid time off guaranteed by the state. So-called marketplace apps, like the Seattle-based pet-sitting service Rover, wouldn’t be covered under the current proposal either, but Mosqueda is working on an amendment to fix that.

Joelle Kraft, who works for Rover, showed up at a hearing this week to urge the Seattle City Council not to leave her out.

“If I get sick, I’m just out of money,” she said. “If a client decides to not go on their vacation, they can last-minute drop me and I am without pay. I don’t get anything. But if I last-minute drop them, Rover will immediately take care of them and make sure that they get another pet sitter right away.”

The legislation would become effective for food-delivery drivers May 1 and other app-based workers in January of next year. It applies to workers providing services partially or fully in Seattle.

“Invisible diseases affect a huge portion of our society,” Kraft said. “And if we can’t have sick leave and go to our doctors and take care of ourselves, then you’re losing workers.”

The City Council temporarily enacted paid sick and safe time for gig workers during the pandemic. The new proposal would make that policy permanent. Mosqueda hopes to pass the legislation in the next month before temporary paid time off for gig workers expires.

“It’s personal to all of us now,” she told KUOW. “We’ve all experienced wondering if that tickle in our throat is Covid, worrying about infecting our friends and family that we just saw. We want people to be able to stay home and take care of themselves and their family when they’re sick.”

Why you can trust KUOW