Does Bill 88 Work for App-based Delivery Workers?

The Ford government called Bill 88 the “Working for Workers Act,” saying that it improves conditions for us - gig platform workers. But this legislation really works for Uber and other app employers - not workers. Let’s unpack that point by point:

What they say

Labour Minister McNaughton said in introducing the bill that “no one working in Ontario should ever make less than minimum wage for an hour’s work.”

The reality

We agree. But Bill 88 actually entitles gig platform workers to less than minimum wage. It requires platform companies to pay minimum wage only for assignment time. Workers will not get paid for all our time worked.

Imagine a construction worker getting paid only while the hammer is on the nail, or a cashier only while their fingers are on the register, a nurse only while sitting at a bedside, and you get the picture.

And who decides what time is considered “on assignment?” The law itself doesn’t define this.

Bill 88 does the opposite of ensuring minimum wage; it ensures sub-minimum wage.

Not only does the minimum wage not apply to all hours worked, but Bill 88 also does not deal with employment-related expenses, which reduce real wages farther below the minimum. We provide ourr cars, bikes, gas, insurance, and maintenance out of our own pocket, further reducing our real income. This is true while we’re “on assignment” and while we’re not! Other employers have to cover these costs as part of doing business.

What workers need is reimbursement for all necessary work-related expenses and pay for all hours at work.

What they say

The government says that Bill 88 makes sure tips and gratuities go to the workers.

The reality

It’s already the law in Ontario that employers can’t withhold or make deductions from workers’ tips. This has been true since 2016. This government wants credit for something they should already be enforcing, like all the existing Employment Standards Act provisions.

What they say

The government says that Bill 88 improves our working conditions.

The reality

Bill 88 allows the apps to continue misclassifying us as independent contractors. Misclassification means being excluded from minimum employment rights and benefits. Platform companies’ business model relies on precarious workers – misclassified as independent contractors – so they don’t have to follow labour laws.

What we need is the same rights and benefits that every other worker should have. That includes:

  • overtime pay for all hours of work over the overtime threshold,
  • vacation and public holiday pay,
  • rest periods,
  • pregnancy and parental leave,
  • Employment Insurance eligibility and employer-paid premiums
  • Canada Pension Plan employer contributions, and
  • other basic workplace protections available to employees under the Employment Standards Act,

Ending misclassification is the key to all of the above.

What they say

Bill 88 requires the app companies to inform workers about how our pay is calculated, and how and why a worker might be penalised in getting work. It requires notice of termination, or of suspension over 24 hours.

The reality

Pay transparency is good; we’ve been asking for that. But in the long run, workers who negotiate wages with employers are much better off. Simply knowing how our pay is calculated is one small step. What we need is the right to form a union, and protection from unjust dismissal.

What they say

The government announced that it plans to bring in portable health benefits for digital platform workers.

What that means

Portable health benefit programs are part of Uber’s plan to keep us precarious and without access to employment rights. Ontario’s Labour minister, on Uber’s request, created a working group to design and pilot a portable benefits program.

But there’s no need for a pilot project – this has been tried before. Similar benefit programs in the U.S. have been mostly inaccessible to workers when they need it.

What workers need is universal access to health benefits, and not at the expense of our employment rights.

If this government were really working for workers, they could instead legislate to end misclassification, and enforce the existing Employment Standards Act when it comes to our rights and statutory benefits. Bill 88 works for the app employers more than for the workers.

Join Gig Workers United and demand better! Gig workers deserve full employment status and the rights and benefits that come with it.

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