A two-year effort by Democrats in the Colorado House and Senate, resulted in a bill, SB 23-098, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) on June 5, that will allow gig drivers delivering passengers or physical objects, to weigh much more information about a particular gig, such as wage, distance, and task details, before accepting a particular gig — and thus avoiding discovering, after the job, that it paid less than anticipated or required driving longer and for greater miles. It also gives drivers recourse for job recovery if they’ve been terminated by gig companies without cause or explanation.


State Rep. Stephanie Vigil (D-Colorado Springs) is the only gig driver serving in the Colorado Legislature, and she was a leader of the effort.

Before running for, winning, and holding office, Vigil was a gig driver for four years.

“Delivery apps have made big promises to Coloradans, including flexibility for workers and more choices for consumers. But too often hidden algorithms interfere with the worker autonomy that drivers in this industry so highly value,” said Vigil, who worked for Uber, in early testimony. “From misleading incentives to faulty tip information, big tech can use deceptive practices to pressure drivers to take low-paying offers, rather than paying what they’re worth. This legislation would improve transparency and fairness in Colorado law to provide drivers with the information they need and deserve to make free and informed decisions about their work.” 

She emphasized that work as an independent gig driver puts a great deal of responsibility on the driver — withholding and paying taxes, setting aside funds for maintenance or repairs, and using educated guesses as to what the return might be for that particular gig. Sometimes, the educated guesses are fairly close, other times, they are widely off the mark.

Those issues are now addressed in the final bill, where gig app companies must now disclose to the driver:

  • An estimated or actual amount the driver will earn for the task, including the tip or reimbursement amounts,
  • The number of transactions involved in the task,
  • The address(es) of the passenger, food, beverages, or other goods must be picked up from,
  • The direction from where the driver is required to pick up the passenger or goods and the location where they must be delivered,
  • The estimated or actual time it will take for the driver to complete the task, and
  • The estimated or actual distance the driver will travel for the task.
  • If a driver is paid for a block of time for multiple deliveries, DNCs would be required to disclose the following before the driver accepts a task:
  • The minimum amount the DNC will pay the driver for completing deliveries during the specific block of time,
  • The direction from where the driver is located and where the driver must pick up and then deliver the products,
  • The estimated or actual distance required to travel to complete the deliveries,
  • Clear information on which products need to be delivered within specific time windows, and
  • The number of items required to be delivered.

Heretofore, gig platform companies have relied on “black box” algorithms that continually analyze, in real time, demand for gig services, availability of gig drivers, current traffic conditions, the recent history of all of the above, tip history for that customer or driver, weather conditions and more. The algorithm then pairs the driver with the customer and sets the cost of the gig, dividing between what is paid to the gig driver, what is charged to the customer, and what goes to the gig platform company.

For example, a gig driver told KUNC last year that he had to pick up a passenger at Denver International Airport. Only then did he learn the destination was Grand Junction. At drop-off, the driver learned from his Lyft app that he was paid $200 for a five-hour drive. His passenger revealed the total cost was $500 and the driver had to drive back to Denver at his own expense because there was no one in Grand Junction who needed a ride to Denver.

A state Senate sponsor, Sen. Robert Rodriguez (D-Denver) explained that unlike past legislative bills, this one wasn’t trying to define whether a gig worker was an independent contractor or an employee of the gig app company, and all that implies. Rather than get stuck on that thorny issue, Rodriguez and his fellow senators decided to focus on transparency issues. In general, that’s information about where and when jobs start and finish, and for how much.

“All workers deserve to know how much they get paid and what their job entails, but currently rideshare and delivery gig workers aren’t given that information,” said Rodriguez in a news release. “Our new law gives basic rights to TNC drivers and provides much-needed transparency for customers.” 

Vigil related that gig drivers themselves are divided on the contractor/employee questions, putting their highest priority on flexibility but still be fairly compensated.

The gig driver transparency issue is the business of the legislature, testified Sen. Rodriquez, because thanks to new technologies, the nature of business transactions has been changing,

The Rodrigues bill also tackled the fact that gig drivers were sometimes terminated with no explanation and no way to obtain a hearing or recourse to get the job back. The new law sets forth a process that requires the driver be told why he/she was terminated and sets forth an appeal process whereby the driver can be reinstated.

The House and Senate versions of the gig driver transparency bill are very similar when it comes to information that must be disclosed to gig drivers, or how to handle disputes, appeals and resolution for driver terminations, but the House bill had key additions. Because DNC gigs have more variables to be considered by drivers, they get 120 seconds to decide yes or no, whereas the previous time limit was six seconds.

And just as the bill would empower gig drivers in their relationship with gig companies, so too, gig customers get a better idea of what is charged by different gig companies and compare the information. In contrast, taxi companies have visible meters that click away and show the accruing cost in the course of the trip.

As the only legislator with gig driver experience, Vigil was key to fending off misinformation from the gig platform business lobbyists, rallying her allies and focusing on a short-term victory like improving transparency for drivers and customers to understand when, where, and how much was inherent in a single gig.

“Gig platform businesses have learned a great deal about luring gig workers with flexibility promises, and will turn that knowledge to converting other service businesses to the gig model, to exploit workers,” said Vigil, adding that gig workers, like those in other sectors, should be able to make ends meet and in so doing be part of a healthy economy.

“This is a long-term fight to keep drivers in the driver’s seat,” said Vigil.