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HB 2076 Offers Benefits and Protection for Lyft Drivers

— April 1, 2022

Lawmakers who worked on the bill say that HB 2076 is the culmination of years of hard work.

Recently, Washington state lawmakers passed a bill designed to benefit Lyft drivers. It is the first legislation of its kind.

The bill offers a compromise between the interest of ride-hailing companies and their drivers. Even though the bill provides benefits for drivers, it maintains their status as gig workers and does not designate them as employees of ride-hailing companies.

What is Lyft?

Lyft is a ride-hailing company. It develops, operates and markets a mobile app that allows users to hail a ride, hire a vehicle, bicycle sharing, motor scooters, rental cars and food delivery.

Lyft’s app uses Istio. You may be wondering, “What is Istio?” It is an open-source service mesh. It lets you connect, monitor and secure microservices that many apps use these days. Istio was developed by a collaboration between Google, Microsoft and Lyft. It is enjoying a growing user base.

How Does the Bill Protect Ride-Hailing Company Drivers?

The bill sets a minimum wage and other benefits for ride-hailing drivers. It has support from labor groups, including Drivers Union, Teamsters Local 117 and the Washington State Labor Council. It also has support from Lyft and Uber, another ride-hailing company.

The bill, HB 2076, will:

  • Set a minimum wage for drivers while they are serving passengers. The rates are tied to the state’s minimum wage and increase as needed. The rate is higher in larger cities.
  • Give paid sick leave to drivers. It accumulates only during the time they are driving passengers.
  • Establish drivers’ rights. These include allowing them to work for other ride-hailing companies and letting them work the hours they want.
  • Create the Drivers Resource Center. The Washington State Department of Labor manages the organization along with an industry that offers employment protections for drivers.
  • Mandate a stakeholder group to address paid family medical leave, unemployment benefits and long-term care benefits.
  • Set regulations for ride-hailing companies in the state.

Lawmakers who worked on the bill say that HB 2076 is the culmination of years of hard work.

“This bill represents a historic opportunity to extend Washington state’s social safety net to drivers on our platform,” said Jen Hensley, Lyft’s head of government relations. She said it includes “lots of creativity and compromise.”

Michigan's Drivers Will Receive Refund Checks
Photo by Peter Fazekas from Pexels

Peter Kuel, the president of Drivers Union, believes the most critical part of the bill is the creation of the Driver Resource Center. It establishes a method for drivers and companies to resolve disputes. It includes an appeals process for drivers fired or “deactivated.”

Kuel is a driver from Kent, Washington. He knows of drivers who have been deactivated due to unproven complaints. Often, drivers purchase new vehicles to work for ride-hailing companies, and suddenly losing the opportunity to work can create hardships.

Some organizations oppose the legislation. Steven Tolman, president of Massachusetts AFL-CIO, said he thinks the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect drivers. He believes other companies will move to an app-based workforce, creating a precedent of exemptions from wage and hour laws and other protections, including civil rights, Social Security, liability insurance and anti-harassment protections.

The bill allows existing local rules to remain in place. Seattle has already been a leader for drivers’ rights. In 2020, the city approved a bill that establishes a minimum wage for ride-hailing company drivers. While local rules stay as is, HB 2076 prohibits updates or new city or county rules.

Other states have looked for ways to regulate the industry created by the gig economy. California, Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan, Florida and Alaska have worked on or created regulations.


For now, Lyft drivers in Washington state can benefit from the additional protection HB 2076 offers them. Time will tell if other states follow suit.

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