The New York City city council recently passed a milestone package of bills aimed at improving the working conditions and protecting the pay of food delivery gig workers. Mayor De Blasio has indicated that he will sign the bills. 

Legal protections for gig workers have been a source of debate, legislation, and litigation across the United States for at least the past ten years. Hours worked, workman’s compensation, minimum wage, health, and safety issues – it seems there is a new aspect of gig worker exploitation and protection being discussed every day.

New York City’s new package of laws peels back a few more layers of the multi-faceted employment relationships that are developing in the gig economy. These relationships can offer the opportunity for wage theft by the food delivery service. Let’s look at the new laws, the first three of which specifically address wage theft.

Tipping transparency

Introduction (Int.) No. 1846-2020 requires disclosures about tips – new disclosures to both customers and workers: 

  • customers must be informed as to how much of the tip actually goes to the worker
  • customers and workers must be informed precisely how and when the tip will be paid to the worker; and
  • workers must be notified of the tips and pay earned within one day after the work is finished.

No charges to workers for the method of payment; weekly pay required

Believe it or not, some gig work platforms use salary payment apps that charge the worker a fee to get paid, which can cost workers up to 20% of their pay in fees. Int. No. 2296-2021 prohibits food delivery services from charging food delivery workers fees for using any form of payment selected by the service to pay the delivery worker. The bill also requires that food delivery workers be paid at least weekly.

Insulated food delivery bags

Int. No. 2288-2021 requires a food delivery service to provide insulated food delivery bags to any delivery worker who has completed at least six deliveries. The food delivery service is required to cover the expenses of the bags, which can cost $50 or more.

Bathroom access

Int. No. 2298-2021 requires that food delivery companies have contracts with their restaurants that allow delivery workers to use the restaurant’s bathrooms, establishing a simple, fundamental right to use the toilet when working.

Route limits and destination information

Int. No. 2289-2021 requires food service providers to give delivery workers the ability to specify the “maximum distance per trip” and to refuse “trips over bridges or tunnels.” The food service provider must disclose the address and “estimated time and distance” of the trip to the delivery worker before the worker accepts the trip.

Wage Study

And, signaling that New York City will continue to monitor and potentially regulate the delivery sector in general, Int. No. 2399-2021 tasks the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) with conducting a study to determine how much delivery workers should be paid for their work.

These new protections, while offering specific remedies for the abuses addressed, also highlight the fragmented nature of labor and employee protection laws and their enforcement. Wage theft is a major economic drag on the US economy, taking between $15 and $40 billion per year from workers’ pockets. 

Government agencies and prosecutors diligently pursue investigations and remedies; however, it is often up to individual workers and groups of workers to identify and act against wage theft. Pelton Graham proudly represents those individuals and groups. The wage theft practices addressed in the New York City laws – and wage theft generally, often affect entire groups of workers, making class action relief appropriate in some cases. 

At Pelton Graham we get results – we don’t take every case, but if we take yours, we promise we’ll do our very best to get you the best possible result.

And remember, although we focus here on food delivery, wage theft happens in many occupations that might surprise you; think pharmaceutical sales representatives, insurance claims adjusters, financial advisors, mortgage loan officers, insurance and bank underwriters, automotive service advisors, various types of drivers, and more. 

If you have any questions regarding your rights as an employee, applicant, gig worker, independent contractor, contact us for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation by telephone, video conference, or in-person at our nearest office.

Photo by Jackson David from Pexels