Opinion

Flexibility, security for independent contractors

A man delivers pizza to a customer. (Photo: Nikolay Sirota, via Shutterstock)

I started DoorDash for people like my mom, who worked in a Chinese restaurant after immigrating to the United States. Working alongside her instilled in me a passion to help hard-working families and small businesses struggling to get ahead.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Californians deliver with DoorDash to earn extra income while retaining the freedom to dictate when, where, and how much they work. They can begin making money within days of signing up, and can deliver by car, bike, or scooter. At the same time, brick-and-mortar businesses can reach new customers through our platform, generating billions of dollars of economic activity annually.

Some believe that Dashers and workers like them should be treated as employees instead of as independent contractors.

Who are these “Dashers” delivering with DoorDash? They’re stay-at-home parents earning extra money while kids are in school, retirees boosting a fixed income, and families making ends meet by adding to their principal source of income amidst California’s high cost of living.

This work is truly supplemental: More than 80% of Dashers report that they have a full- or part-time job, are students, or own their own business, and Dashers deliver for an average of 3 hours per week. That explains why 81% of California Dashers have said that they wouldn’t work with a gig-economy platform that assigned hours and didn’t let them work on-demand.

There’s a debate happening in California right now about the future of gig-economy workers. Some believe that Dashers and workers like them should be treated as employees instead of as independent contractors, arguing that they could still enjoy the same flexibility that they enjoy today. But that argument defies the experience of employees across the country. Would a coffee shop allow an employee to show up for a shift without notice, leave after an hour to run a personal errand, or work simultaneously at the coffee shop down the street?

As CEO of DoorDash, I’m committed to doing more to enhance work standards for everyone. That’s why we support legislation that would preserve the flexibility and autonomy Dashers value while creating groundbreaking protections and benefits.

If legislators fail to act, Californians who have come to rely on platforms like ours for supplemental work will see those opportunities disappear.

On-demand couriers would be entitled to a statewide earnings standard that also mandates transparency. Platforms like ours would fund benefits, from baseline coverage for medical expenses if a worker is injured on the job to paid time off for those who qualify. New legislation would also create a formal mechanism to ensure that workers’ concerns are heard and protect all gig-economy workers from harassment and discrimination.

We’ve already begun to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Last week, DoorDash became the first national gig-economy company to roll out a program to ensure Dashers’ medical expenses (and more) are covered if they’re injured on the job, at no cost to them. We also launched the Dasher Community Council, which will enable Dasher representatives to voice concerns directly to me.

No one knows exactly what forcing employment status on Dashers would mean, but a few things are certain: If legislators fail to act, Californians who have come to rely on platforms like ours for supplemental work will see those opportunities disappear. Consumers will lose the convenient, affordable options on which they have come to depend as prices would skyrocket. And businesses throughout the state will struggle to survive without the revenue that has allowed them to thrive in the digital age.

It’s time to pair flexibility with economic security, starting right here in California. We’re ready to help lead the way.

Editor’s Note: Tony Xu is the CEO of DoorDash.


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