British Columbia Statute on Minimum Employment Standards for App-based Gig Workers Receives Royal Assent, But Relevant Provisions Not Yet in Force

On November 30, 2023, Bill 48 – 2023: Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 2023 (Bill 48), received Royal Assent from the Government of British Columbia (BC).  Bill 48 is a statute pertaining to minimum employment standards for app-based ride-hailing and food-delivery gig workers. 

The provisions of Bill 48 that relate to gig workers are not yet in force; they will come into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council on a date to be determined.  

Press Release

On November 16, 2023, prior to the enactment of Bill 48, the Government of BC released a press release indicating that the purpose of future legislation pertaining to gig workers would be “to bring fairness and predictability to [gig worker] jobs with new proposed standards as the sector continues to expand.”  The press release identifies “gig workers” as “App-based ride-hailing and food-delivery gig workers…” who earn their income “outside of a traditional employment relationship.”

The press release states further that during extensive roundtables with app-based workers, platform companies and others, “many expressed concerns such as facing low and unpredictable wages, being cut off from the job without warning and lacking workers’ compensation coverage if injured on the job.”  The press release confirmed that the standards addressed in what is now Bill 48 would reflect these issues.

The press release notes that an estimated 11,000 ride-hailing drivers and 27,000 food-delivery workers are in BC; there are 21 ride-hailing companies licensed to operate in BC and seven food-delivery platforms.

A Backgrounder included in the press release provides that amendments would be made to the province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Workers Compensation Act (WCA) defining online platform workers and ensuring that “ride-hail and food-delivery workers will be considered employees, specifically for purposes of the ESA and WCA.”    

The Backgrounder proposes employment standards and protections for gig workers in BC that: establish and apply a minimum wage; recognize expenses workers incur when using a personal vehicle for work; protect tips; ensure pay transparency by allowing workers to see earnings for completed assignments and by providing workers with wage statements every pay period; ensure destination transparency by requiring platform companies to provide pickup and delivery locations for each assignment; provide protections to workers who are suspended or terminated; and extend workers compensation coverage to workers from WorkSafeBC.  The Backgrounder provides further that standards will not be established under the ESA in the following areas, which the government will continue to monitor:  hours of work and overtime; statutory holidays; paid leaves; and annual vacation. 

Bill 48

When the applicable provisions of Bill 48 are in force, they will, among other things:

  • Add the following definition of "online platform worker" to the definitions sections of the ESA and the WCA: “a person who performs prescribed work that the person accepts through an online platform”;
  • Provide that for the purposes of the ESA and the WCA, an online platform worker is to be considered an employee, and the operator of the online platform through which an online platform worker accepts prescribed work is to be considered the online platform worker’s employer; and
  • Amend the ESA and the WCA to provide that the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations “respecting online platforms and work accepted through online platforms.”

Accordingly, the standards referred to in the news release are not set out in Bill 48; instead, they will be enacted in the future via regulations made under the ESA and the WCA and will thereafter apply to BC’s gig workers “regardless of whether they are employees or independent contractors under the law.” 

We will follow related developments and keep you informed. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.