New York City food delivery workers just won the right to bathroom access on the job after months of organizing and protests

Hundreds of delivery workers protest a surge in the thefts of their bicycles on October 15, 2020 in New York City.
Food delivery workers protest a wave of bike thefts in New York City in October 2020. Delivery workers have increasingly been speaking out about low pay and poor working conditions. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • NYC passed several bills aimed at improving pay and working conditions for delivery workers.
  • One guarantees workers can use the bathroom when picking up orders, Vice earlier reported.
  • NYC’s gig work laws have often led other states to adopt similar regulations – these could too.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City council members on Thursday voted to pass a series of landmark bills aimed at improving pay and working conditions for food delivery workers operating within the city.

One bill specifically requires third-party food delivery apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash to include a clause in their contracts with restaurants making bathroom facilities available to delivery workers.

The bill, earlier reported by Vice, addresses workers’ long-held complaint that – amid pressure from delivery companies to fulfill orders as quickly as possible, as well as restaurants restricting access – they’re often unable to find anywhere to use the bathroom in between orders.

Another bill passed Thursday include provisions requiring delivery companies to show workers how much they’ll earn (excluding tip) and the estimated trip time and distance before they accept an order, as well as let them set limits on how far they’ll travel per trip.

A third aims to increasing transparency around pay – specifically tips – by requiring companies to tell customers how much of their tip will ultimately go to the delivery worker before collecting it, as well as provide workers with more information about their total earnings, including from tips, and notify them when and why a customer changed or removed their tip amount.

The bills come after months of protests and organizing by delivery workers, led by the grassroots group Los Deliveristas Unidos, about low wages, opaque pay practices, and at times hazardous working conditions that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

As contractors, delivery workers lack many of the legal protections enjoyed by delivery companies’ corporate employees. Amid growing concern about the precarity of so-called “gig” workers, New York City and other cities and states have increasingly been passing laws requiring companies that rely on them to comply with existing labor laws.

The food delivery industry has aggressively fought to prevent its workers from being reclassified as employees, though Grubhub came out in support of the laws passed by the New York City council on Thursday.

“These bills are common sense steps to support the delivery workers who work hard every day for New York’s restaurants and residents. Ensuring they receive a living wage and have access to restrooms isn’t just a good idea – it’s the right thing to do,” Grubhub spokesperson Grant Klinzman told Insider in a statement.

DoorDash told Insider in a background statement that it had some concerns about the bills, claiming workers being able to set specific limits could hurt underserved areas and that putting a bathroom access guarantee in its contracts could make restaurants less likely to comply.

“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. This is why last year, we announced an industry-leading set of initiatives to improve Dasher safety, strengthen earnings, and expand access to restrooms. 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,” a DoorDash spokesperson added in a statement.

Uber did not respond to a request for comment on this story.