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How will new 'hazard pay' for food delivery drivers affect local restaurants?

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 6/17/2020 Kara Kostanich, KOMO News Reporter
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The Seattle City Council has adopted "hazard pay" for food and grocery delivery drivers during the coronavirus crisis.

Seattle is the first city in the nation to make this move.

But who will fund hazard pay and how will it affect businesses?

Business at Jack’s BBQ has been a roller-coaster since we were hit by the pandemic.

"It’s been crazy," said Jack Timmons, owner of Jack's BBQ.

Timmons said business these days is finally breaking even but it looks a lot different.

"Our delivery business has tripled and our to go business has doubled," Timmons said.

But the hazard pay ordinance adopted by the Seattle City Council has the restaurant owner worried.

Drivers working for grocery and food delivery companies will now be paid $2.50 per delivery on top of their regular rates.

The folks on the frontlines are the ones on the frontlines are seeing low pay high risk, not having enough safety protection and this is great measure to give them some pay to recognized them for the risk they’ve taken in," said Rachel Lauter, Executive Director of Working Washington.

DoorDash driver Jason Reeves says the extra compensation helps.

"It will be easier for me to maintain my supply line of PPE," Reeves said.

And that's good news for drivers. The legislation prohibits the delivery companies from passing the cost onto customers ordering groceriesbut it doesn’t stop them from charging restaurants or customers.

"And that’s the problem – we don’t know what’s going to happen as a result of this," Timmons said.

The Seattle Restaurant Alliance said it’s unclear if the fee will passed on to restaurants and customers, they release a statement that says in part.

"We hope the new law passed by the council does not come with unintended consequences for our restaurant and food service businesses, which are already deeply impacted and hurting in the current business and pandemic climate," the Seattle Restaurant Alliance said in a statement. 

Many restaurants told KOMO News they did not know City Council was considering this legislation and that it could impact them.

We’ll have to wait and see if these big delivery companies pass the cost onto the restaurants and or the customer.

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