Uber’s treatment of its drivers has been under intense scrutiny this year, with many localities enforcing new rules on the ride-sharing company, including hourly wages. On Tuesday, Seattle became the latest city to enforce a minimum hourly wage on both Uber and Lyft.

As of January, both ride-sharing operations will be required to pay drivers at least $16 an hour, the minimum wage in Seattle for businesses with 500 or more employees. The decision to enforce this rule on Uber and Lyft was passed by the Seattle City Council in a unanimous 9-0 vote, the New York Times reports.

“The pandemic has exposed the fault lines in our systems of worker protections, leaving many frontline workers like gig workers without a safety net,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the decision.

Seattle is the second major city to pass a measure like this, following on from New York City’s measure in 2018. The minimum wage for these drivers in the Big Apple is currently set at $17.22 after expenses.

California as a whole also recently passed a bill that requires ride-sharing companies to classify drivers as employees and not independent contractors, which had allowed them to avoid paying hourly minimum wage, offering overtime pay, offering workers’ compensation, and providing unemployment insurance.

Uber and Lyft, for their parts, have strongly opposed these measures, attempting to spin their treatment of drivers as necessary for keeping costs low. Both have supported a measure on the California ballot in November that would exempt their drivers from the law reclassifying them as employees.

Uber said it intends to become "zero emissions" by 2040 as it moves to transition mainly to electric vehicles, as part of an effort to fight climate change Uber said it intends to become “zero emissions” by 2040 as it moves to transition mainly to electric vehicles, as part of an effort to fight climate change Photo: AFP / Josh Edelson

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