New York City passes extensive laws to protect food delivery workers

The regulations could have implications for the rest of the US.

Carlo Allegri / reuters

New York City has passed sweeping legislation aimed at protecting workers of app-based food delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash. The move makes the city one of the first municipalities in the US to aggressively regulate an industry that has grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic.

Per Bloomberg, the legislation touches nearly every aspect of the job. For instance, addressing an issue that was a subject of a $2.5 million settlement, delivery apps and courier services must disclose their gratuity policies, and guarantee that workers always receive their tips. They must also pay them at least once a week, and provide them with payment options that don’t necessitate the need for a bank account. Another part of the legislation mandates platforms include a clause in their contracts with restaurants to ensure they provide bathroom access to delivery workers.

Both Grubhub and DoorDash told Engadget they support the legislation, though the latter voiced some reservations about specific measures. “We recognize the unique challenges facing delivery workers in New York City and share the goal of identifying policies that will help Dashers and workers like them,” a DoorDash spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the City Council, to identify ways to support all delivery workers in New York City without unintended consequences.”

The company specifically pointed to the restroom mandate, which lawmakers tweaked near the end of the process to put the onus of ensuring compliance on platform holders. It’s also concerned about a provision that gives delivery workers the ability to set limits on their routes. The company contends that’s something that could hurt customers in underserved areas.

Meanwhile, Grubhub voiced, at least publicly, stronger support for the laws. “These bills are common-sense steps to support the delivery workers who work hard every day for New York’s restaurants and residents,” a spokesperson for the company told Engadget. “Ensuring they receive a living wage and have access to restrooms isn’t just a good idea — it’s the right thing to do.”

Just how difficult it can be to make a living as a delivery worker was put in sharp relief last month when Hurricane Ida blanketed New York City with torrential rain. Images and videos of workers navigating flooded streets spread on social media, leading to calls for more regulation.