Saturday, February 24, 2024

App-based workers could get better pay and conditions with new BC legislation


The Province says workers in BC’s app-based sectors could soon have better pay and working conditions.

People who drive for Uber and other ride-hailing services or those who deliver food have been working in an industry that just 20-years ago didn’t exist in the way it does today. 

As of this publication, the BC government estimates that there are currently around 11,000 ride-hailing drivers and 27,000 food-delivery workers in the province who rely on these jobs to support themselves. 

“Last week, I announced several proposed solutions that respond to the needs of the workers who deliver our meals and drive us where we need to go,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. 

“Today, I am tabling a bill in the house to establish the legislative authority for those protections so that the regulations can be developed as quickly as possible.”

Concerns raised by those who work in the app-based gig economy are the low and unpredictable wages, being let go or fired without warning and a lack of workers’ compensation coverage if injured on the job.

One ride hailing driver working in Vancouver, Inder Raj Gill, says that this legislation is much-needed and will benefit himself as well as all his colleagues across BC.

“This is the first and a very crucial step towards recognizing us as hard-working individuals,” said Raj Gill. 

“We can look forward to receiving a fair resolution process, pay that reflects our hard work and basic rights and benefits like any contributing member of society.” 

If this legislation passes, BC would be the first province in the country to address the vulnerabilities these app-based gig economy workers face.

Specifically, what the new legislation would do is amend the definition of these workers to have them considered as employees, even if they might technically be independent contractors to these app-based companies. 

This will force the companies they work for to adhere to the Employment Standards Act in terms of how they treat and pay their workers. 

In this move, a set of employment standards will be implemented to bring fairness and predictability to these jobs through new regulations that will be reviewed over time and improved if the need is there.

The proposed bill is called the Labour Statutes Amendment Act and it was given its first reading in front of the BC Legislative Assembly on Monday, November 20th.

Curtis Blandy

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