Coming to a Ballot Near You: Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act

4 minute read | February.26.2020

This November, Californians may get the chance to vote on a ballot measure that would address some of the fallout from the new independent contractor law known as AB 5. The proposed ballot measure is called the “Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act.” The ballot measure would allow Californians to vote to protect their right to work as independent contractors with rideshare and delivery network companies throughout the state.

The measure was introduced by a coalition of businesses and rideshare/delivery drivers and has the support of many community organizations and public safety groups within the state. This includes, but is not limited to, the California NAACP, Fathers Against Drunk Driving, the California Small Business Association, and the California Police Chiefs Association. Many of these organizations have rejected AB 5’s attempt to force non-traditional workers into a traditional employment model. As David Nelson, Director of Public Policy for the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, explained, “Forcing rideshare and delivery drivers to become employees would significantly limit the availability and affordability of these services to exist, and would stifle economic growth and small business expansion across our State, while ultimately driving up costs for the consumer."

Beyond community organizations and public safety groups, the measure is currently supported by more than 50,000 app-based drivers in California. Retirees, students, parents, and others looking to supplement their income have embraced the flexibility and independence that being an independent contractor affords them. As of January 30, 2020, the measure has reached 25% of the signatures needed to get it on the November 2020 ballot.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed ballot measure:

Drivers Stay Independent Contractors:

The measure allows rideshare and delivery drivers to remain classified as independent contractors if:

  • The network company does not unilaterally control the dates, times, or minimum number of hours that the drivers must work;
  • The network company does not require the drivers to accept specific ride or delivery requests;
  • The network company does not restrict the drivers from working for other rideshare or delivery service network companies, except during engaged times (i.e. the time between when a driver has accepted a request for a ride or delivery to when the driver has completed the drop off); and
  • The network company does not restrict the drivers from working in any other lawful occupation or business.
Historic Rights and Benefits for Drivers:

In addition to maintaining independent contractor status for drivers, the measure breaks ground by guaranteeing them historic rights and benefits. For example, the measure guarantees driver net earnings of at least 120% of state or local minimum wage. If a driver falls below 120% of minimum wage for the relevant earnings period, the network company will pay the driver the difference. Drivers will also be given a reimbursement of 30 cents per engaged mile for fuel and wear and tear on their vehicles.

The measure further guarantees healthcare subsidies for drivers who work more than 15 hours per week. Drivers would be able to receive health care subsidies from more than one network company. If a driver works a minimum of 25 hours per week, they will receive 100% of the average contribution required by the Affordable Care Act.

In addition to health insurance subsidies, the measure guarantees drivers will have occupational accident insurance to cover medical expenses and lost income resulting from on-the-job injuries sustained while a driver is logged into the network company's app. Automobile accident and liability insurance will also be provided by the network companies to compensate third parties for injuries or losses caused by an app-based driver during an engaged time. The measure also includes protections for drivers against unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment.

As Dr. Tecoy Porter, President of the National Action Network, Sacramento Chapter, has stated, "[the] ballot measure will protect the rights of workers to earn extra income or primary income on their own terms while providing historic new earnings and benefit guarantees. This measure is a good deal for California workers."

Protections for Consumers:

Finally, the measure embraces protections for customers and public safety. The measure offers robust sexual harassment protections and reporting systems for customers. It would make criminal background checks and zero-tolerance policies for drug and alcohol offenses mandatory for all drivers. In addition, the measure lays out required safety training for drivers on important issues like collision avoidance, food safety, and recognizing and reporting sexual assaults. It also includes a cap on consecutive driving hours in a 24-hour period to ensure drivers on the road are well rested.

Making sure that drivers keep the flexibility to drive when they want to allows them to be on the road at the times when Californians need them most. “One thing we know for certain, rideshare services help take impaired drivers off of our roads and protect the public safety,” said Robert Ybarra, Founder and CEO, Fathers Against Drunk Driving. "It's so easy now to make the right choice – the safe choice – but these services could be at risk, especially late at night when they're most needed.”

If the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act reaches the required signature threshold, it will be on the ballot in California on November 3, 2020.