By Rachel Bluth | California Healthline
App-based driving services such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart are bankrolling California’s Proposition 22, which would keep their drivers classified as independent contractors, not employees.
Leading into the Nov. 3 election, the ballot measure — which has become the most expensive in state history — is mired in controversy and the subject of a lawsuit from Uber drivers alleging that the company inappropriately pressured them to vote for the initiative.
But what’s occasionally lost in the debate over Proposition 22 are the claims about what it will mean for app-based drivers.
Detractors, like unions and driver advocacy groups, say Proposition 22 would strip drivers of the protections of AB-5, a 2019 California law delayed by legal challenges. The law requires drivers to be classified as employees, which would afford them the associated benefits like paid sick leave, workers’ compensation and access to unemployment insurance.
Supporters, such as ride-sharing companies and the California Chamber of Commerce, say Proposition 22 would give drivers benefits, like a guarantee of minimum earnings and compensation when they are hurt on the job, while allowing them to maintain the flexible schedule of independent contractors.
In an online ad paid for by Lyft, the company says “Prop. 22 will give them … health care benefits.”
That sounds like drivers with Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies will automatically get health insurance if Proposition 22 passes. The truth is a little more complicated.
What Does ‘Health Care Benefits’ Mean?
We reached out to Lyft to back up its claim, and the company directed us to the “Yes on 22” campaign. This is how the campaign explained “health care benefits”:
Under Proposition 22, drivers who qualify — more on that in a minute — would get a stipend they could use to buy an insurance plan from Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace.
That stipend would be calculated like this: App-based companies would look at the statewide average monthly premium of bronze-level plans sold on the Covered California exchange.
The companies would then give qualified drivers a stipend of 82% of the average premium, said Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Yes on 22 campaign. (On average, U.S. employers covered 82% of premiums costs for single coverage in 2019.)
So hypothetically, if bronze plans cost an average of $100 per month, Uber, Lyft or a similar company would provide qualifying drivers with $82 per month.
Drivers would be eligible for the full stipend — all $82 in the hypothetical case — if they average 25 hours per week of “engaged” time, which does not include time spent waiting between jobs.
“Most drivers work part time” and spend about one-third of their time…