Should DoorDash and Uber drivers get a better deal in BC?
Many gig workers delivering food or people for companies like Uber or DoorDash are forced to endure long unpaid waiting times, lose money on deliveries and don’t even make minimum wage.
The provincial government is looking to change that but wants feedback before bringing in rules.
As many as 60,000 BC residents may be engaged in this kind of “precarious” work with 39% of 1,470 people who answered government surveys saying it’s their sole source of income while it’s the main source of income for another 15%.
The survey was conducted last winter, following in person interviews with 150 gig workers. Of those surveyed, 69% delivered food only, 17% worked on ride hailing platforms only and 14% did both. Most were between the ages of 18 and 34.
A quarter of respondents worked more than 40 hours per week and many were not making minimum wage.
“Some workers explained they value app-based work because it provides a way to earn income that could be picked up or dropped at any time, and it can work around unpredictable family obligations or academic schedules,” a Ministry of Labour report says.
“Others said they had specifically chosen this work to maintain greater freedom from the requirements of more traditional employers, and they value having the latitude these platforms provide in allowing workers to choose when and how much to work.”
But there are many downsides to the work, including pressure not to refuse jobs.
“In some cases, workers told us the payment offered for an assignment is less than the cost of gas that would be required to complete the assignment,” the report says. “However, because workers feel pressure to maintain certain assignment ‘acceptance rates’, they feel compelled to accept these money-losing assignments.
“Several workers referenced a platform company that provides a minimum per-delivery/trip payment to workers who maintain an 80% assignment acceptance rate. The guarantee of a minimum payment has a significant impact on workers’ earnings, so some workers felt that maintaining an 80% acceptance rate was critical.”
Drivers are not paid while waiting for assignments, nor are they paid due to delays at restaurants or in traffic.
They are also not paid for fuel or maintenance costs on their vehicles so hikes in gas prices can have a major impact on their incomes.
While some ride hail companies charged fees to passengers for traffic delays, those were not passed on to drivers. Nor were tips always paid to drivers.
They don’t have the ability to refuse unsafe work, sometimes because they don’t know their destination before accepting an assignment. This was a particular concern among bicycle delivery drivers who had to go on unsafe streets or into unsafe neighbourhoods.
The government wants input on if a minimum wage should be paid and how that might be done.
One option would be to have a higher minimum wage that the provincial hourly rate but have it paid on delivering time only. Another option would require the hourly minimum while seeking assignments as well as when driving, similar to taxi drivers.
Other things being considered are Workers Compensation Benefits, which are now paid by some workers while others do without.
Sick pay, fuel and maintenance compensation along with tip protection are also under consideration.
Feedback is being sought through email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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