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Proposed app-based worker ordinance would cost Seattle $1 million annually

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(The Center Square) – The Seattle City Council continues to discuss a proposed ordinance that would limit the ability of companies to deactivate app-based workers but would require approximately $1 million per year in ongoing costs.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards stated in a fiscal note that the $1 million would be needed for more staffing within the department, outreach, community partnerships and translations.

Another $200,000 in one-time funds is expected as well. This would go towards supporting initial implementation of the ordinance, if passed by the city council.

The Office of Labor Standards already had 19% of its general operating expense budget cut in the 2023-2024 budget in order to assist the city in balancing the general fund deficit that is expected to grow to $224 million in 2025 and 2026.

The 19% deduction to the department’s unprogrammed operating expense budget was identified as the least harmful reduction the department could take, according to its 2023-2024 budget overview.

Other financial implications of Council Bill 120580 stated in the fiscal note include the cost of supporting the Office of Labor Standards’ enforcement through the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, as well as the cost of conducting hearings on appeals from respondents through the hearing examiner.

Under the proposed ordinance, app-based companies with 250 or more employees would have to conduct an investigation of alleged misconduct and establish “reasonable policies” for deactivating a worker’s account. If the worker is guilty of misconduct, they would have 14 days’ notice that their account is to be deactivated, as previously reported by The Center Square.

Workers who have had at least 10% of their offers in the past 180 days take place in Seattle’s city limits would be covered.

The Seattle Public Safety and Human Services Committee passed Council Bill 120580 by a vote of 3-1, with one abstention on July 17. It will now go for a full city council vote on Aug. 1.

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