Postmates ordered to pay workers’ comp premiums for Washington couriers

Dec 21 2016

If you’re part of the gig economy, you know that classification matters. There’s a world of difference between independent contractors and employees in everything from taxes to overtime to workers’ compensation coverage.

Driving and delivery companies such as Uber have typically argued that their drivers are not employees, although Uber has faced multiple class action lawsuits arguing that the company is misclassifying its drivers as contractors.

A delivery startup company is now getting hit from another direction. The Washington Department of Labor & Industries recently audited Postmates and found the company needed to be paying workers’ comp premiums for its couriers in Washington, according to GeekWire. The state decided to audit the company after some couriers filed workers’ compensation claims.

The state department ordered the company to pay two years of back premiums, but Postmates is disputing the order, claiming that they haven’t misclassified couriers. If the state and company can’t resolve the issue, it may end up in court.

While it’s unclear how this could affect Denver residents who deliver for Postmates, there’s a takeaway for delivery drivers and other gig workers across the country. If you’ve been hurt on the job and think you might be misclassified as an independent contractor, it could be a good idea to explore your legal options to see if you might be eligible for workers’ compensation after all.

And with government officials across the country cracking down on misclassification, disputes about worker classification are likely to continue.

Drivers, whether they’re transporting people or takeout, may have more on the line than other gig workers, since they’re more likely to be injured on the job than someone with a desk gig. This is especially true in winter, when slippery roads, icy sidewalks and rush requests can be a recipe for all kinds of injuries.