Six new bills passed through the NYC legislature and are expected to be signed by Mayor Bill De Blasio. These bills are related to the working conditions and expectations of delivery drivers who work for app-based companies such as DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats.
According to an article written by Khristopher J. Brooks for CBS News, the bills combined require these companies (emphasis ours):
- Coordinate with restaurants to ensure delivery workers are allowed to use the bathrooms while awaiting orders
- Pay delivery workers at least once a week and without charging a fee
- Provide workers with free insulated delivery bags after they have made at least six deliveries
- Allow workers to set a maximum distance they’re willing to travel for deliveries
- Clarify on their platforms what percentage of a customer’s bill goes toward a delivery worker’s tip
New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection will also study the working conditions for food delivery workers and create rules for a minimum payment amount per trip.
The major app-based food delivery companies themselves seem a bit divided on the topic. The article states the Uber Eats did not respond to requests for comment while DoorDash gave a more generic response that they, “share the goal of identifying policies that will help Dashers and workers like them.”
The lone standout was Grubhub. In a different article on the same topic, written by Kari Paul from Yahoo Finance, “A spokesman from Grubhub said the company supported the bills, calling them ‘common-sense steps to support the delivery workers who work hard every day for New York’s restaurants and residents’.”
What Do These Bills Offer Gig Workers?
Let’s talk about the challenges and questions that arise from these bills, aimed to help the workers.
One big, and important to delivery drivers, point is the first one listed—Coordinate with restaurants to ensure delivery workers are allowed to use the bathrooms while awaiting orders.
“Coordinate with restaurants” is a very carefully worded way of putting it. This could mean that restaurants could still ultimately have the choice of allowing delivery drivers access to their restrooms or not. Or it could mean that the government will mandate that restaurants will allow access to their restrooms.
It would seem to make sense that restaurants should allow these workers to use their restrooms. Afterall, they are basically like customers, and restaurants let their patrons use the facilities all the time.
One individual who commented on RSG’s Facebook page seems to disagree. In reference to the use of restrooms, he stated, “Government overreach of private property is what it looks like.”
Should the government have the power to say who can use a restaurant’s restroom?
A commenter on RSG’s YouTube page said in part, “One of the primary reasons for governments to exist is to address and resolve externalities. Drivers not having access to bathrooms is definitely a negative externality.”
One big question is, if a restaurant won’t let a delivery driver use their restroom… where will the individual go? They’d be forced to go “offline” and find a location that will allow restroom access, or be forced to hold it until their next delivery, or find alternate means of going (such as in an alley).
Pay Without Fees
This one is interesting to me because I believe most app-based companies do allow you to be paid once a week without fees. It would be a direct deposit into your bank account.
Perhaps this is meant more for instant payout options that are given by many of the app companies as well, which usually come with a fee attached of some kind. However, if these workers are already receiving pay once per week, I feel like this demand is already being met.
On the other hand, there may be app-based delivery service companies that I don’t know about who are not following this basic premise.
Free Insulated Bags
Some companies already provide one free bag when you sign up for their services, but not all of them do. And many encourage buying branded bags to use while doing deliveries for that company.
If it’s required to have a branded insulated bag, I think the company should provide it free of charge. I know this kind of requirement is not unusual even in other gigs.
For instance, I used to work at a Target store. I was not given a uniform to wear, but was required to wear a red shirt and khaki colored pants. I had to buy those items for myself before my first day of work and was never reimbursed for it by the company. However, it was a requirement nonetheless.
That being said, for the specific type of service being discussed here, it would be in the best interest of the app-based companies to provide their drivers with these insulated bags to keep the food hot and more palatable to the customers. Too many instances of drivers not using an insulated bag and customers might find other apps to use instead where the drivers are properly equipped.
Set a Maximum Distance
This is another point that is beneficial to the companies as well as the workers. It doesn’t make sense sending delivery drivers 20 miles to deliver an order. It will never be close to fresh or hot when delivered that far.
Plus, if a delivery person is using a bike or walking, there’s definite limitations on how far they can go in a timely manner and it should be up to them to decide how far they are willing to travel for each delivery.
Tip transparency has been an ongoing issue with many different facets. In some instances, delivery drivers want to see what tip amount they are earning before they accept a delivery. Other times, companies have substituted drivers’ earnings with the tips they are receiving, giving them less overall than what would be expected.
In this instance, it looks like the bill will have each platform clearly state to the customers what portion of what they pay will go towards the driver’s tips.
I think this could have been fleshed out more and clarified that the tip should be 100% separate from any platform fees or other payments for delivery and should be given 100% to the drivers as they are the ones out there performing and working on a daily basis.
A tip is meant for the worker, not the company. Plain and simple.
This looks like a step in the right direction, but I kind of wish they’d pushed the boundaries a bit more. I think the tip transparency could be stronger.
I also think the insulated bag should be provided by the companies before six completed deliveries. It’s a necessity to do good business and should be given to all drivers before their first delivery.
Frankly, Seattle may have tackled driver concerns better than NYC. What do you think?
What do you think about these new protections for gig workers? Do they go far enough?
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-Paula @ RSG