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Gig workers in Seattle to receive hazard pay

Adrian Florez

Gig workers who deliver groceries and restaurant meals to homes in Seattle will be getting hazard pay. The Seattle City Council approved a bill that requires companies such as Instacart to pay workers an extra $2.50 per delivery during the coronavirus emergency.

Seattle is the first city in the nation to mandate premium pay for delivery workers. Earlier during the COVID-19 crisis, the Seattle City Council required that gig workers receive sick pay. Council member Andrew Lewis, who sponsored the hazard pay ordinance, said he wanted to make sure the workers, who are doing an essential job, would be compensated for things like buying disinfectant and hand sanitizer.

"Also, making sure there was some consideration for the unique hazards that folks are facing during COVID," he said.

For example, Lewis said, they are spending a lot of time around others in grocery stores putting them at risk.

The ordinance stipulates that the $2.50 extra pay per delivery that workers get cannot be charged back to customers. The premium pay is temporary during the crisis. The original proposal was for a $5 per delivery.

Instacart, which opposed the ordinance, took out a whole page ad in The Seattle Times saying the premium pay could make the business unsustainable in the city.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.