VANCOUVER—The proposed regulations outlined today by B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains delivers long-overdue protections for misclassified gig workers but will stop short of giving them the full employment rights all Canadians deserve, says Unifor.
“Powerful digital platform employers have come to rely on precarious employment, and governments can and must raise the floor for gig workers,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President.
Gig workers often find work through digital platforms or apps, taking on tasks such as driving for ride-sharing services, delivering food, or performing various freelance jobs.
Classified in most jurisdictions as “independent contractors”, gig workers have been unfairly denied basic workplaces rights—including the right to form unions and collective bargaining.
Under the proposed regulations, the Government of British Columbia is proposing to include gig workers under basic employment standards including a minimum wage, pay transparency rights and other notable improvements.
The regulations include many problematic exemptions that will result in continued lower status for gig workers. Unifor argues that they deserve full protection under the Employment Standards Act, including access to daily minimum pay, overtime pay and paid vacation time.
Minister Bains says the government will consider additional compensation in cases when workers use a personal vehicle for work. Unifor helped set high standards for owner-operator truckers during the development of the Container Trucking Act and promises to work with Bains to help set an equally high standard for gig workers.
“The B.C. government is building a basic floor for gig worker rights that most governments in Canada have failed to do. That’s commendable,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “However, there’s a difference between rights on paper and in practice. Gig workers must have equal representation under the law and the tools make the employer accountable.”
Unifor has previously called on governments to introduce a sector-based collective bargaining model tailored to gig workers, empowering workers to negotiate strong industry standards and resolve workplace disputes.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.
Proposed employment standards, protections for ride-hailing, food-delivery workers
- Establish a minimum earnings standard of 120% of B.C.’s general minimum wage (currently $16.75) and apply it to engaged time.
- Engaged time begins when a worker accepts an assignment through its completion.
- Engaged time does not include the time spent waiting between assignments. This is the rationale for adding a 20% premium.
- Platform companies will top up the difference when the earnings paid in a pay period do not meet the minimum earnings standard for the engaged time worked.
- Tips are not included in the minimum earnings calculation.
- Establish an additional compensation standard to recognize the costs that workers incur when using a personal vehicle for work.
- The Ministry of Labour will be consulting with workers, platform companies and others to determine an appropriate compensation standard.
- Prohibit platform companies from withholding tips or making deductions from tips.
- Ensure that when platform companies offer an assignment to a worker, that worker can see the earnings for completing the assignment.
- Platform companies will also be required to provide workers with wage statements every pay period so workers can ensure they are paid correctly.
- Platform companies will be required to provide all pickup and delivery locations for each assignment.
- This will allow workers to assess the desirability and safety of assignments before accepting them.
Suspensions and terminations:
- Platform companies will be required to inform a worker in writing of the reason for a suspension or deactivation of their account.
- Platform companies must also provide a review process that allows workers to present their side and supporting evidence.
- In response to a review, companies must provide a written explanation of their final decision.
- Platform companies will be required to give written notice or compensation for length of service if they want to terminate a worker’s account unless there is just cause for the termination.
Workers’ compensation coverage:
- Workers’ compensation coverage from WorkSafeBC will be extended to ride-hailing and food-delivery workers.
- Workers will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including vocational rehabilitation services, for work-related injuries.
- Platform companies will be responsible for:
- registering for coverage with WorkSafeBC and paying premiums;
- following health and safety rules to keep workers safe;
- reporting injuries and diseases; and
- investigating significant incidents.
Intended legislative approach
Amendments will be made to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) to define online platform workers and to ensure that ride-hail and food-delivery workers will be considered employees, specifically for the purposes of the ESA and WCA. The protections and standards described above will then apply to all workers in the industry regardless of whether they are employees or independent contractors under any law.
To protect the flexibility that workers value and address their top priorities, alternate standards for this industry will be created within the ESA while some of the Act’s existing provisions will not apply at this time.
Standards in the following areas will not be established at this time under the ESA for ride-hailing and food-delivery workers, but government will continue to monitor these areas:
- hours of work and overtime;
- statutory holidays;
- paid leaves; and
- annual vacation.
– BC government