Gig Workers

Last updated on November 24, 2023

ride-share passenger using an app to rate the driver

Gig workers – including app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers – deserve to be treated fairly, just like all other workers in our province.

B.C.'s employment laws should reflect the needs of modern workplaces.

People in B.C. have embraced app-based ride-hail and food-delivery. Customers enjoy the convenience of these services, while workers value the flexibility that this type of work offers, such as being able to log on and off an app to work when they want. However, most people involved in the sector agree there is room to improve working conditions for these workers.

Last updated: November 24, 2023

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Proposed solutions for protecting workers as the employment landscape changes

The economy and workforce have shifted dramatically in B.C., just as they have around the world. The gig economy – which is characterized by more independent, flexible and temporary jobs, often through online or app-based platforms – has become much more common.

After significant engagement with app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers, platform companies, labour organizations and other parties, the Government of B.C. is proposing solutions to ensure appropriate employment standards and other protections are in place in this sector.

On November 20, 2023, Government introduced proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Workers Compensation Act to implement these solutions. The amendments will enable the development of regulations establishing basic employment standards and workers’ compensation protections for this sector.

Engagement with platform companies, app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers, and other stakeholders will continue through the regulation development process.

Changes will come into effect after the legislation is passed and new regulations are finalized. More information regarding the proposed amendments and the nature of the proposed employment standards and workers’ compensation protections can be found in the November 16 and November 20 news releases.

Gig Work

Gig work includes paid work outside of a traditional employment and includes app-based ride-hail and food-delivery work. Gig work can be an appealing option for workers who want independence and the flexibility to set their own hours.

Precarious Work

There is no universal definition of precarious work, but here in B.C. we see precarious work as being work that is often marked by low pay, little security and few -- if any -- basic employment standards. It can include part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal workers whose hours are not guaranteed. Gig work can often be considered precarious work.

Independent Contractors

Here in B.C., most workers are eligible for the benefits and protections established by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), such as minimum wage, overtime, and statutory holiday and vacation pay. Independent contractors are not employees under the ESA, so they are not subject to the statutory employment standards. Workers with questions around how the ESA applies to them can visit the Employment Standards Branch website.

If a complaint is filed and the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) is asked to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee, the ESB will look at the specific circumstances of the situation as well as the relationship between the two parties.

Calling a person an independent contractor, even if the worker agrees, does not decide the issue. The ESB makes the determination of whether a worker is an employee based on the requirements of the ESA, including its definitions of “employee,” “employer,” and “work”. If there is disagreement with the decision, the matter can be appealed to the independent Employment Standards Tribunal.

The proposed amendments to the ESA, introduced on November 20, 2023, will provide that ride-hail and food-delivery workers will be considered to be “employees” specifically for the purposes of the ESA. This will ensure that the specified employment standards will apply to these workers, whether they are employees or independent contractors under any law.

To protect the flexibility that workers value, and to address their top priorities, certain employment standards under the ESA will apply to these workers: alternate standards designed to specifically address the unique needs of this industry will be created by regulation, and some of the ESA’s existing provisions will not apply at this time. To learn more, read the related November 16, 2023 news release.

Summer/Fall 2023 Engagement

The Ministry of Labour developed a discussion paper: Proposing Employment Standards and Other Protections for App-Based Ride-Hail and Food-Delivery Workers in British Columbia. Released August 3, 2023, this formed the basis of the most recent round of engagement considering potential standards and protections for these workers.

The discussion paper outlines the priority concerns heard during the initial engagement and provided the context for considering appropriate employment standards and other protections for the sector. It also set out questions for comment regarding the following priority issues:

  1. Fair compensation standards
  2. Pay and destination transparency
  3. Account suspensions, deactivations and terminations
  4. Workers' compensation and occupational health and safety coverage

The Ministry welcomed feedback and perspectives on the questions and priority issues posed in the discussion paper until September 30, 2023. This engagement included listening to the concerns of gig workers at worker roundtable discussions. This phase of engagement is now closed.

Fall 2022 Engagement

In Fall 2022, the Ministry of Labour began an engagement to identify the benefits and challenges of app-based ride-hail and food-delivery work. Platform companies, labour and business organizations, academics, and others were invited to take part in virtual meetings. Worker-only roundtable discussions took place in several B.C. communities, and a public survey focusing on app-based ride-hail and food-delivery workers was conducted online. Results of that engagement are compiled into a What We Heard Report.

Workers' Compensation

B.C.’s workers’ compensation system provides no-fault compensation benefits for work-related injuries, diseases, mental health disorders and fatalities. For independent contractors, WorkSafeBC, which is responsible for the Workers Compensation Act (WCA), offers the option of purchasing Personal Optional Protection. If purchased, this ensures that independent contractors have workers’ compensation coverage. For questions regarding workers’ compensation coverage, please contact the Assessment Department.

The proposed amendments to the WCA, introduced on November 20, 2023, will ensure that ride-hail and food-delivery workers will be considered to be “workers” specifically for the purposes of the WCA. As such, workers’ compensation coverage from WorkSafeBC will be extended to these workers whether they are employees or independent contractors under any law.

Employment Standards

The law in B.C. sets standards for payment, compensation and working conditions in most workplaces. The standards promote open communication, fair treatment and work-life balance for employees.

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