Minimum Compensation Established by Fare Share Wage Ordinance in effect as of January 2021

SEATTLE (January 4, 2021) – On January 1, 2021, the minimum compensation requirements established by Seattle’s Fare Share Wage Ordinance went into effect. This new ordinance ensures all drivers are paid a fair wage, guarantees that drivers are paid for all of their working time, and compensates drivers for work-related expenses and some benefits, and protects drivers from unlawful deductions. Building off legislation passed in November 2019, this ordinance was proposed by Mayor Durkan in August 2020 and unanimously passed by City Council October 2020.  

“Seattle is a national leader in ensuring all our workers – including domestic workers and TNC workers – are paid fairly, and Seattle has created a new model for TNC drivers to receive a minimum wage and benefits,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We are rebuilding our economy and our City in a way that better reflects our values and lifts up those that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that most drivers are from low income families and the majority of drivers are from communities of color, including immigrant and refugee communities. Our unions including  Teamsters 117 and tens of thousands of drivers fought hard to move forward on some of the first in the nation worker standards and protections. Ensuring a fair wage for Seattle drivers is the best way to start 2021.”  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers – designated as essential, frontline workers – have been disproportionately impacted by a lack of standard worker protections and a safety net, including unemployment and healthcare. This increased compensation for drivers allows for  the purchase of health insurance, among other expenses. 

 “Everyone deserves to earn a living wage to put a roof over their heads and food on their tables, especially those working on the frontlines of this pandemic. I was honored to work with the Mayor on this legislation because I wanted to build an economy, and an economic recovery, that works for all. Not only did we establish stable pay for drivers, but we added new labor protections including rest breaks and allotted cleaning time, to keep both drivers and consumers safe,” said Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle City Councilmember, Position 8 (Citywide). 

The minimum compensation standard established by this ordinance is based on a study by James Parrott of The New School and Michael Reich of the University of California, Berkeley, which found that drivers in Seattle were making $9.73 an hour after expenses, well below the Seattle minimum wage. Using the study, Seattle will mandate that Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) pay drivers at least $0.57 per minute and $1.33 per mile and will ensure drivers are paid for all of their time, including the time spent circling and waiting for a ride. 

 “After years of pay cuts, it helps a lot to finally have a pay raise in the new year,” said Gabriel Dansou, a father of three and an activist with Drivers Union. “2021 is starting with hope for a better future for Black and brown immigrant workers. All drivers are very grateful.” 

In extensive outreach conducted by the City to almost 11,000 drivers, current TNC drivers consistently cited the need for increased pay and compensation as their highest priority. Uber and Lyft drivers in King County are disproportionately low income and predominately from immigrant and refugee communities. Responding to the needs of Uber and Lyft drivers through this law strengthens Seattle’s economy, and supports an essential workforce that has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of January 1, 2021, the minimum per mile rate is $1.33 and the minimum per minute amount is $0.32.  The per minute rate increases monthly until it reaches $0.57 on April 1, 2021. For all trips, including if the customer or TNC cancels the trip, the driver must be paid a minimum of $5 per trip. Read more about the law here.