App-based gig workers in British Columbia will soon have better working conditions with new protections, including basic employment standards.
The gig economy of “app-based” workers, such as Uber drivers and SkipTheDishes delivery persons, has seen significant growth in Canada in recent years amid a rapidly growing population and rising costs of living.
Across 21 ride-hailing companies and seven food-delivery firms in BC, the province boasts more than 11,000 drivers and 27,000 delivery workers.
And while workers value the flexibility of gig work, many express concerns around low and unpredictable wages, as well as a lack of job security, according to Janet Routledge, the Province’s Parliamentary Secretary for Labour.
Routledge says the Province is taking action to bring fairness and predictability to these types of jobs with new proposed standards as the population of those with income “earned outside of a traditional employment relationship” continues to expand.
“We’ve been listening to gig workers all across the province during the engagement roundtables about the challenges they are facing, and these standards reflect what we have heard,” she says. “All workers, regardless of where they’re from or what they do, deserve minimum employment standards and protections.”
Proposed solutions were developed after engagement with app-based workers, platform companies, labour organizations, business associations, and the public, says Harry Bains, who serves as the Province’s Minister of Labour.
“The workers who appear at the touch of a button to drive us home or deliver our dinner deserve to be treated fairly,” he asserts. “We know how important these services are to people in B.C. and our goal is to balance the needs of workers while supporting the continuation of these services.”
Proposed changes include a “minimum earnings standard” for “engaged time” exclusive of tips, which will also gain protections (companies would be prohibited from withholding or deducting from tips).
Other changes include increased transparency and communication regarding wages and total payouts, while also demanding platforms be more clear when justifying suspensions or other punishments to workers.
Rules for certain elements of working conditions—such as overtime, stat holidays, and paid leaves—”will not be established at this time,” the government stated, but affirmed that it “will continue to monitor these areas.”
The changes will come into effect after legislation is passed and new regulations are finalized, according to the Province.