HR Policy Association

Washington Law Requires Paid Leave for Platform Drivers

Washington passed legislation that will mandate paid family and medical leave for platform drivers (e.g., Uber, Lyft), continuing a trend of increasing access to benefits for gig workers. More states are looking at increasing access to benefits and other employment rights for gig workers in the absence of federal action. Washington previously mandated minimum wage and sick leave for gig workers. 

H.B. 1570 provides platform drivers access to up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. The bill, which was signed into law this week by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), also gives drivers access to unemployment benefits. The measures expand upon a previously enacted law granting platform drivers minimum wage, sick leave, and workers’ compensation insurance. Notably, the bill was supported by Uber and Lyft, which hailed the legislation as a “historic win” for drivers and a “true compromise between state lawmakers, labor leaders, and transportation network companies.”

More and more states are targeting legislation to provide benefits and other employment rights to gig workers. Platform companies such as Lyft and Uber have campaigned in California, Washington, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and elsewhere to negotiate legislative compromises to provide more benefits and protections to gig workers without making them into full time employees. 

Outlook: While the Department of Labor will probably issue its final rule on independent contractor status in the coming months, it is unlikely that the rule will significantly impact gig workers – at least to the extent that it would require such workers to be classified as full employees. In the absence of federal action, states – often pushed by Uber and Lyft – are filling the void by increasing benefits and protections for gig workers.