Use Uber lately? How about SkipTheDishes? Let’s assume you did. And you appreciated the service. So, you provided a nice tip. Happy? I am. I use digital platform services frequently. Ever stop to think about the rights of gig economy workers? Probably not.
With the proliferation of people turning to work in the gig economy, there have been concerns over the (mis)treatment of these vulnerable individuals. This industry is unregulated, which creates uncertainty for workers and the companies that operate in this type of economy. Recently, Ontario has stepped up and proposed new legislation to address this uncertainty: the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022.
The Ontario government summarizes the purpose of the Act as: “[to] provide certain rights and protections for digital platform workers who provide ride-share, delivery, or courier services for payment and are offered work assignments by an operator through the use of digital platforms.” If this new legislation is passed, here are some of the anticipated rights for gig economy workers:
Information: Operators would be required to provide key information to workers, including factors used to offer assignments; performance rating; method of calculating pay; estimated pay for each assignment.
Pay period and pay days: Operators would have to establish a recurring pay period and recurring pay day, and pay all amounts earned and tips/gratuities collected during each pay period by the pay day for that period.
Minimum wage: Operators would have to pay workers at least the general minimum wage set out in the ESA for each work assignment.
Deductions: Operators would be prohibited from withholding or making deductions from an amount earned by a worker or a worker’s tips/gratuities unless authorized by another Act or a court order.
Notice of removal from the platform: Operators would be required to provide a written explanation if a worker’s access to the platform is removed. Operators would be required to provide two weeks’ notice of any suspension of 24 hours or longer (unless worker is guilty of wilful misconduct).
Reprisal protection: Operators (and persons acting on their behalf) would be prohibited from intimidating or penalizing a worker, or threatening to do so, for taking action under the Act.
Dispute resolution: All digital platform work-related disputes between an operator and worker would have be resolved in Ontario.
No contracting out: An operator and worker would be prohibited from contracting out or waiving a worker right. Any such contracting out or waiver would be void. An exception would exist where a contract provides the worker with a greater benefit than the worker right.
This is a much needed step towards improving this industry, and we expect British Columbia to follow Ontario’s footsteps.
We will keep you posted on developments in Ontario, and any subsequent similar changes in British Columbia. Stay tuned!