App firms to pay family and medical leave for ride-hail drivers in Washington

Washington’s Senate has passed a bill, HB 1570, granting ride-hail drivers paid family and medical leave, expanding on the rights won under the 2022 Expand Fairness Act.

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Washington’s Senate has passed the bill HB 1570 that would give ride-hail drivers the right to paid family and medical leave, making it the first state in the US to do so. The legislation expands on the existing driver rights established by 2022’s Expand Fairness Act, which introduced protections against unjustified deactivation, worker’s compensation insurance and paid sick time. 

The achievement comes a month after California upheld Proposition 22, classifying Uber and Lyft drivers as dependent contractors – a measure that was later declared unconstitutional – and has the potential to generate a ripple effect in other states.

According to Peter Kuel, president of Drivers Union, an association of ride-hail drivers, the bill represents a milestone in the nationwide struggle for workers’ rights. Ride-hail drivers will have access to up to 12 weeks of paid leave for health conditions or caregiving responsibilities, with app-based companies such as Uber and Lyft fully covering the cost of a driver’s premiums for the programme. 

The bill still requires the governor, Jay Inslee’s, signature to become law. Once signed, ride-hail drivers can expect to access the program starting in July 2024.