The B.C. government has announced its intention to table legislation that will impose minimum employment standards for app-based gig workers, including ride-hailing drivers and food delivery workers, who are typically engaged as independent contractors.

Proposed Changes to Employment Standards and Workers Compensation for Gig Workers

The British Columbia Minister of Labour has explained the motivation for these proposed changes is a desire to increase fairness for app-based "gig" workers that earn their living through ride-hailing and food delivery apps (e.g., Uber, Foodora, SkiptheDishes, Lyft). These workers are typically engaged as independent contractors and, when not a misclassified employee, are presently without the minimum protections of employment standards or workers' compensation legislation afforded to employees.

The government will soon present legislation to amend the Employment Standards Act and Workers Compensation Act so as to apply to gig workers, regardless of whether they are employees or independent contractors. The proposed changes were developed after engagement with gig workers, "platform companies", labour organizations, business associations, and the public. The government estimates around 11,000 ride-hailing drivers and 27,000 food-delivery workers operate in the province.

The proposed changes would establish a minimum wage at 120% of the provincial basic minimum wage, for "engaged time" (i.e., the time between when a worker accepts an assignment through to that assignment's completion). Engaged time would not include time spent waiting between assignments. Tips are not included in the minimum earnings calculation, and platform companies would be required to top up the difference when earnings in a given pay period fall below the minimum earnings standard for engaged time worked.

Other key changes reportedly will include:

  • creating a "compensation standard" to recognize the costs workers incur for using their personal vehicle;
  • prohibiting platform companies from withholding or making deductions on tips;
  • requiring platform companies to disclose the earnings for an assignment when that assignment is offered, and to provide regular wage statements;
  • entitling workers to receive reasons for suspension or deactivation of their accounts and establishing a review process for such suspensions;
  • mandating platform companies to give written notice or compensation for length of service for termination of a worker's account (which is tantamount to termination of employment or engagement), absent "just cause";
  • extending workers' compensation coverage to ride-hailing and food-delivery workers; and
  • establishing workers' compensation registration and reporting requirements for platform companies.

The government has indicated it does not intend, at this time, to impose employment standards relating to hours of work and overtime, statutory holidays, paid leaves, and vacation.

The government has not yet introduced the intended legislation or regulations. We will blog further when those details are made public. We invite you to follow our Knowledge Hub to stay up-to-date with key changes in employment and labour law.

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