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A delivery courier in NYC Marco_Piunti/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Delivery drivers will have more protections — including for their wages, tips and hours — with this bill.

Delivery drivers will be able to use restaurant bathrooms in New York City’s sweeping couriers’ rights bill

New York City Council’s bill would also set limitations on distance/delivery route for couriers and determine a minimum wage, among other protections

New York City Council passed a sweeping set of bills on Thursday protecting the rights of delivery drivers and couriers. The package would allow drivers certain protections like setting parameters on their trip (maximum distance they’re willing to travel to make their deliveries, for example), and the right to use the restrooms of the restaurants they’re delivering food for.

The bills — which have the support of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — would also make the process of distributing gratuities to couriers more transparent, prevent third-party apps from charging couriers to receive their payment, and require workers to be paid at least weekly.

As part of the legislation, the city’s Department of Consumer and Workers Protection will be studying the labor conditions of these third-party gig workers including their salaries, expenses, rights, and safety. After the study is completed, the department will determine how much delivery drivers should be paid. Currently, their pay is regulated by such factors as what neighborhoods they’re working in and peak vs. off-peak hours. The regulations for these minimum-per-trip payments would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.  

"You risked your lives and your livelihoods during the pandemic to keep New Yorkers fed and the city afloat,” City councilmember Carlina Rivera said in a statement about the bills’ passage. “Maybe it did take some very tragic moments to get to this moment—waist-deep floodwaters and a pandemic—but this victory is yours, we know how vital you are to this city, we know workers deserve dignity and respect."

Just before the City Council voted on this set of bills, advocacy group the Workers’ Justice Project in partnership with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, released a study detailing the average pay and working conditions of 500 New York City-based third-party app workers. The median hourly pay for these workers is $7.94 and with tips is $12.21, which falls significantly short of the city’s $15 minimum wage.

“Today we stood in solidarity with the deliveristas as the City Council passed sweeping legislation giving them justice and protections, including the right to use bathrooms at restaurants,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement. “The restaurant industry and third-party delivery workers must continue to fight together to ensure that billion-dollar third-party delivery companies can no longer exploit our city’s small businesses and workers.”

However, the bill would still list the couriers as independent gig workers, which would not entitle them to workers compensation and other benefits. In an interview with The New York Times, Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of the Worker Institute said that she thinks the rights offered by these bills are a bare minimum starting point:

“My concern is that this gets presented as the solution,” Campos-Medina said. “The ability to use the bathroom is a basic human right.”

This is not the first time New York City has tried to regulate the third-party delivery industry. In August, New York City Council passed a permanent 15% delivery fee cap for delivery companies to pass onto restaurants. San Francisco passed a similar law, and in retaliation, the major third-party delivery players, including Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats, banded together to file lawsuits against both cities.

Also in San Francisco, a court ruled Monday that drivers for food delivery and ride-sharing companies will be able to seek “massive penalties” against Grubhub and other companies for not treating their drivers as employees. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, the penalized companies would have to pay $100 per week per driver (with the workers collecting one-quarter of the debts and the rest going to the state).

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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