HB 2076 offers benefits and protection for Lyft drivers

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Lawmakers who worked on the bill say HB 2076 is the culmination of years of hard work.


Recently, Washington State lawmakers passed a bill designed to benefit Lyft drivers. This is the first legislation of its kind.

The bill proposes a compromise between the interest of carpooling companies and that of their drivers. Although the bill provides benefits for drivers, it maintains their status as gig workers and does not designate them as employees of ride-sharing companies.

What is Lyft?

Lyft is a ride-sharing company. It develops, operates and markets a mobile application that allows users to take a ride, rent a vehicle, share bikes, scooters, rental cars and deliver food.

Lyft’s app uses Istio. You might be wondering “What is Istio?” It is an open source service mesh. It allows you to connect, monitor and secure the microservices that many applications use these days. Istio was developed through a collaboration between Google, Microsoft and Lyft enjoys a growing user base.

How does the bill protect ride-sharing company drivers?

The bill sets a minimum wage and other benefits for VTC drivers. He has the support of labor groups, including the Drivers Union, Teamsters Local 117 and the Washington State Labor Council. It also has support from Lyft and Uber, another ride-sharing company.

The law project, HB 2076will:

  • Set a minimum wage for drivers while they serve passengers. Rates are tied to the state minimum wage and increase as needed. The rate is higher in large cities.
  • Give drivers paid sick leave. It accumulates only during the time they drive passengers.
  • Establish the rights of drivers. This includes allowing them to work for other ride-sharing companies and letting them work the hours they want.
  • Create the Driver Resource Center. The Washington State Department of Labor runs the organization with an industry that provides job protections for drivers.
  • Mandate a stakeholder group to address paid family medical leave, unemployment benefits and long-term care benefits.
  • Establish regulations for ride-sharing companies in the state.

Lawmakers who worked on the bill say HB 2076 is the culmination of years of hard work.

“This bill represents a historic opportunity to extend Washington State’s social safety net to drivers on our platform,” said Jen Hensley, government relations manager at Lyft. She said it involved “a lot of creativity and compromise”.

Photo by Peter Fazekas from Pexels

Peter Kuel, the president of Drivers Union, believes that the most critical part of the bill is the creation of the Driver Resource Center. It establishes a method for drivers and companies to resolve disputes. It includes an appeals process for licensed or “disabled” drivers.

Kuel is a driver from Kent, Washington. He knows of drivers who have been disabled due to unsubstantiated complaints. Often drivers buy new vehicles to work for ride-sharing companies, and suddenly losing the opportunity to work can create difficulties.

Some organizations oppose the legislation. Steven Tolman, Massachusetts AFL-CIO president, said he thinks the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect drivers. He thinks other companies will transition to an app-based workforce, setting a precedent for exemptions from wage and hour laws and other protections, including civil rights, social security, liability insurance and protections against harassment.

The bill allows existing local rules to remain in place. Seattle has already been a leader for drivers’ rights. In 2020, the city approved a bill that establishes a minimum wage for ride-sharing company drivers. While the local rules remain as they are, HB 2076 prohibits updates or new city or county rules.

Other states have sought ways to regulate the industry created by the gig economy. California, Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan, Florida and Alaska have developed or created regulations.

Conclusion

For now, Lyft drivers in Washington State can benefit from the added protection their HB 2076 provides. Time will tell if other states follow suit.

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