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Freelancers in the Philippines Now Have a Low Cost Global Gig Platform in Both Filipino and English Languages

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The Global Gig-Economy in 2019 has ranked the Philippines sixth in the world for the number of its freelancers. The ranking found that the island nation freelancers and freelance gigs grew at a amazing 35% from the year before, bringing the total Philippines population working as freelancers to 2%. As the nation of freelancers is growing, so is the internal need for freelance services.

Communal Marketplace
CommunaMP.com provides low total cost and highly specialize gig services.

One of the most focused problems in the gig economy, and especially in non English cultures, is the ability to update freelancers about the many changes in their market, because not only is the freelance gig market moving very fast, but often the market a freelancer specializes in is moving even faster than the gig market overall. That’s why both companies and freelancers need to stay abreast of the latest news.

So, for example, Communal Freelance Gig Marketplace (CMP) combines with global newspaper Communal News to provide freelance technology news in the Filipio language with focused updates on local freelance industries such as Komunidad Freelance Gig Marketplace News.

CMP also believes that, in becoming a global gig provider, it is very important that you provide languages that help both the buyer and seller, no matter their country or language. Knowing the gig world has no borders, CMP is proud to provide language support to over 97% of the globe.

Villanueva, a senator in the Philippines, stressed the need for a law protecting freelance workers. He boasted that the Philippines was listed among the world’s fastest growing markets for freelancers and freelance gigs, and he announced that earnings from the sector rose by 35% this year.

CommunalMP.com services over 100 languages including Filipio for both buyers and sellers, and those languages cover over 97% of the Globe

Most people in the Philippines earn very low wages. By providing a global gig, a Filipino vendor can sell their services to the world. Opening an online service or business can be far more lucrative for Filipinos, especially if they are providing a truly specialized service that is in high demand. The pay is often far better than providing low-cost, often repetitive, labor.

The manager of PayPal Southeast Asia, Rahul Shingal, said:

“We are seeing more young people choosing to freelance as they become integral to the global economy, it is critical for them to be accorded the same respect that other professionals receive. We should do more to elevate the standing of freelancers as a community and empower them in their autonomy.”

To help achieve this increase respect for young gig professionals providing defined services in the freelance market, Communal MP is providing one of the lowest total costs for global gig transactions.  We are saving buyers and sellers about 40%, as our way of showing respect for freelancers, to help them increase their pay and keep a larger share of funds from their lucrative services. Communal has the ability, with their worldwide newspaper, to drive large robust traffic at far lower costs to gig providers in the Philippines.

Many believe the gig economy, especially in SE Asia will continue to evolve, providing a steady career that is built on flexibility.  Soon we will see companies from SE Asia buying and building on the global gig market.

It’s simple, easy and free to post a gig on the communal freelance global gig community.

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Supreme Court Of Canada Finds Uber’s Mandatory Arbitration Clause Invalid And Paves Way For Gig Economy Class Action – Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration

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In Uber Technologies Inc. v.
Heller
(Uber), 2020 SCC 16, the
Supreme Court of Canada held that the mandatory arbitration clause
in Uber’s service agreement that prescribed arbitration take
place in the Netherlands and required drivers to pay US$14,500 up
front in administrative fees is unconscionable and therefore
invalid.

Summary

  • The Court ruled that Uber’s
    arbitration clause imposed insurmountable procedural barriers that
    rendered the driver’s contractual rights
    “illusory”.

  • In so holding, the Court made it
    clear that Canadian courts may depart from the general rule of
    arbitral referral where accessibility to arbitration is
    realistically unattainable.

  • In setting out a two-part test for
    unconscionability, the Uber decision serves as a warning
    to employers and companies that use standard-form contracts to take
    care in drafting dispute resolution clauses so as not to impose
    procedural barriers or burdens that effectively prevent parties
    from accessing arbitration.

Background

In 2017, an UberEATS driver (the “Plaintiff”)
commenced a proposed class action against Uber in Ontario. He
claimed that Uber drivers are employees under Ontario’s
Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and
entitled to ESA benefits. Uber brought a motion to stay the
proposed class proceeding because the Plaintiff had agreed to
Uber’s standard-form services agreement. That agreement
contained an arbitration clause that required all disputes to be
resolved through arbitration in the Netherlands, not a court (the
“Arbitration Clause”). Arbitration required that the
Plaintiff pay administrative fees of US$14,500, plus legal fees and
other costs of participation, an amount that represented most of
his annual income. The Plaintiff argued that the Arbitration Clause
is invalid because it is unconscionable and because it contracts
out of the mandatory provisions of the ESA.

Decision of the motion judge

The motion judge granted Uber’s motion for a stay in favour
of arbitration. The motion judge concluded that the ESA does not
restrict arbitration and that the arbitration agreement’s
validity had to be referred to arbitration in the Netherlands, in
accordance with the principle that arbitrators are competent to
determine their own jurisdiction. The motion judge rejected the
argument that the Arbitration Clause is unconscionable as there was
no evidence that Uber had preyed upon or taken advantage of the
driver.

Decision of the Court of Appeal for
Ontario

The Court of Appeal allowed the driver’s appeal and set
aside the motion judge’s stay. It agreed with him that Ontario
courts should decide whether the Arbitration Clause is valid. The
Court of Appeal determined, among other things, that the
Arbitration Clause amounted to an illegal contracting out of the
ESA and was unconscionable based on the inequality of bargaining
power between the parties and the improvidence of the costly
arbitration process.

Supreme Court of Canada Decision

In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed
Uber’s appeal. It agreed with the Court of Appeal that courts
should decide if the Arbitration Clause was valid and found that
the Arbitration Clause is unconscionable, and therefore invalid,
with the consequence that the proposed class action may proceed to
court.

The Arbitration Act, 1991 governs the dispute

As a preliminary matter, the Court considered whether the
parties’ dispute was governed by the International
Commercial Arbitration Act, 2017
(ICAA) or
Ontario’s Arbitration Act, 1991. Writing for the
majority of the Court, Abella and Rowe JJ. held that in making such
a determination, it is necessary to focus on the nature of the
parties’ dispute rather than on their relationship. As the case
at hand concerned an employment dispute, which is not covered by
the ICAA, the Court held that the Arbitration
Act,1991
governs.

Who should determine the validity of the Arbitration
Clause?

The Court then addressed the issue of whether the court or
arbitrator/arbitral tribunal should decide the validity of the
Arbitration Clause. Drawing on its decisions in Dell Computer
Corp. v. Union des consommateurs
(2007) and Seidel v.
TELUS Communications Inc
(2011), the majority of the Court
reaffirmed that courts should refer all challenges to an
arbitrator’s jurisdiction to the arbitrator, unless they raise
pure questions of law, or of mixed fact and law that require only
superficial consideration of the evidence in the record and where
the court is convinced that the challenge is not a delay tactic or
will not prejudice the recourse to arbitration.

However, the Court created a new basis for departing from the
general rule of arbitral referral, where: (i) there is a bona
fide
challenge to an arbitrator’s jurisdiction; and (ii)
there is a real prospect that doing so would result in the
challenge never being resolved by the arbitrator.

Based on the record before it, the Court found that the
Plaintiff had made a bona fide challenge to the validity
of the Arbitration Clause, and that, given the significant
arbitration costs involved, there was a real prospect that if a
stay were granted the Plaintiff’s challenge would never be
brought before an arbitrator for resolution.

Unconscionability: a two-part test

The majority of the Court held that there are two elements
required for the doctrine of unconscionability to apply:

  1. Inequality of bargaining power
    between the parties; and

  2. A resulting improvident bargain that
    unduly advantages the stronger party or unduly disadvantages the
    more vulnerable.

In doing so, the majority rejected Uber’s argument that
unconscionability should consist of a more stringent four-part test
that would also require that the victim lack independent legal
advice and that the stronger party knowingly took advantage of the
weaker. The majority held that including these additional factors
would only distract from the unfair bargain inquiry. In the
majority’s view, the requirements of inequality and
improvidence, if properly applied, are sufficient to
strike the proper balance between fairness and commercial
certainty
.”

The majority found there was inequality of bargaining power
between Uber and the Plaintiff given (i) the significant
sophistication gap between the parties, and (ii) the finding that
the Plaintiff could not be expected to appreciate the financial and
legal implications of the Arbitration Clause.

According to the majority, the resulting bargain was improvident
because arbitration would entail administrative fees that were very
substantial for someone with the Plaintiff’s annual income and
which were also disproportionate to the size of any arbitration
award that could reasonably have been foreseen when the contract
was entered into. Effectively, the Arbitration Clause made the
substantive rights that were nominally given by the services
agreement essentially unenforceable by the Plaintiff.

In a concurring opinion, Brown J. agreed with the majority that
the appeal should be dismissed, and that the Arbitration Clause is
invalid, but, among other things, took issue with the
majority’s reliance on the doctrine of unconscionability to
reach its conclusion. According to Brown J., the application of the
unconscionability doctrine to the facts of this case is both
unnecessary and undesirable for two reasons:

  • The law already contains settled
    legal principles outside the doctrine of unconscionability, such as
    the rule of law and public policy, which courts can use to avoid
    enforcing contractual terms that, expressly or by their effect,
    deny access to independent dispute resolution; and

  • It would drastically expand the
    doctrine’s reach without providing any meaningful guidance as
    to its application, and only compound the uncertainty that plagues
    the doctrine and introduce uncertainty into the enforcement of
    contracts generally.

Côté J., the lone dissenter, found that a stay of
proceedings should be granted on the condition that Uber advances
the funds needed to initiate the arbitration proceedings. She found
that both the majority and Brown J. disregarded the concepts of
freedom of contract, party autonomy, and commercial certainty.

Implications of the Uber Decision

As a result of the Uber decision, companies that use
standard form contracts will want to be cautious in drafting
arbitration clauses to ensure that they are enforceable. Where
there is an imbalance of power between the parties, consideration
should be given to fairness and accessibility issues. For instance,
companies will want to pay attention to whether a clause mandates
dispute resolution in a particular jurisdiction and the arbitration
fees involved and consider how onerous the clause is, to ensure
that parties to the contract are not being effectively excluded
from arbitration.

The concurring reasons of Brown J. forecast the potential
commercial uncertainty that may arise as a result of the
majority’s endorsement of a two-part test for unconscionability
that eliminates the requirement that the strong party have
knowledge over the weaker party’s vulnerability. It is
foreseeable that there will be more challenges to the
enforceability of executed standard form agreements on the basis of
unconscionability.

In terms of next steps, the Supreme Court of Canada’s
decision paves the road for this gig economy class action to move
forward in Ontario’s courts, where ultimately some
determination will be made as to the classification of Uber drivers
as independent contractors or employees.

Originally published July 3, 2020.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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Gig Economy Companies May Soon Get Benefit Of Federal Misclassification Rule | Fisher Phillips

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The formal regulatory notice released July 1st, 2020, is so short and sterile that the average gig economy business could be forgiven for ignoring it: “The Department of Labor is proposing a regulation for determining independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” But the implications are immense. Given the manner in which the current administration has treated the misclassification question, Wednesday’s announcement seems to be a signal that we will soon see a federal regulation that will provide a flexible standard permitting typical gig economy businesses to classify their workers as contractors under federal law. And according to Bloomberg Law’s Ben Penn, the Department of Labor will aim to fast-track the rule so that it is completed by year’s end, insulating the rule from the possibility that a new administration voted into the White House this November could quickly reverse course. What do gig economy businesses need to know about this interesting development?

Signs Point To Flexible Standard

There have developed two competing schools of thought when it comes to the proper legal standard to determine the status of workers as either independent contractors or employees: a bright-line rule (like the ABC test) that erects barriers making it difficult for the average gig economy business to classify workers as contractors; or a flexible standard that permits for some measure of forgiveness in the legal analysis and generally permits the average gig business to treat workers as contractors. And all signs point to the fact that the new rule expected from the USDOL will provide the flexibility that gig economy companies and other businesses crave. Here’s the supporting evidence:

  • As early as 2017, within months of the new administration assuming control of the Labor Department, the agency withdrew guidance published during the Obama administration that had hampered businesses when it came to independent contractor misclassification and joint employment standards. The guidance letters that had been scrapped didn’t carry the force of law but were relied upon by USDOL investigators and courts when examining allegations of wrongdoing and were often cited by plaintiffs’ attorneys to support their demands.
  • In July 2018, the agency issued a field assistance bulletin further tilting the misclassification scales back towards an even playing field and providing what many assumed was a helpful clue to gig economy companies about how the agency could regulate the concept of misclassification on a broader scale.
  • In April 2019, the USDOL issued a much-heralded opinion letter confirming that certain workers providing workers for a virtual marketplace company are, indeed, independent contractors. It provided the federal government’s official interpretation on whether a certain business model or practice complies with the law and offered solid evidence of how the agency views the misclassification question.
  • Finally, tucked away in Wednesday’s regulatory agenda notice is a single word that signals the purpose of the agency’s action: “deregulatory.” This appears to announce that the rule will further the current administration’s penchant for removing barriers that interfere with a business’s ability to conduct its work most efficiently.

When Will We See The New Rule?

The big question, then, is when we can expect to see this rule unveiled and finalized. The prior Labor Secretary indicated that a misclassification rule was on its way back in 2018, so we shouldn’t be faulted for not holding our collective breath in anticipation. But this time could be different – especially given the political dynamics at play.

According to sources providing information to Bloomberg Law’s Ben Penn, “the administration wants to wrap up the rulemaking in the final months of President Donald Trump’s term in part because a Democrat could be president next year, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. If a worker classification rule were to be proposed but not finalized and Trump doesn’t get re-elected, a new administration would easily be able to kill the effort. Or new DOL leaders inheriting the incomplete rule could finalize it by interpreting the term “employee” much more broadly than Republican regulators envisioned.”

That would mean a warp-speed effort to finalize the rule. In the six months left in the current administration’s term, the agency would need to reveal a proposed rule, manage a public notice-and-comment period sufficient to pass legal muster, and then finalize the rule in a way that responds to the many comments and criticisms the proposal is certain to face. And of course, even if a rule gets finalized in this tight timeframe, there always stands the possibility that challengers could file litigation and win a court order blocking the rule from taking effect on the eve of implementation. Which all adds up to the fact that this proposal could face tremendous challenges before gig economy companies can feel comfortable relying upon it.

It is also worth noting that such a rule would not be a magic bullet for all gig economy businesses across the country. After all, this rule would only regulate the treatment of classification questions under the federal wage and hour law, while state rules and laws that provide a heightened state of regulation would remain in place.

All that being said, seeing a uniform flexible rule addressing the misclassification question would be a step in the right direction. The USDOL may even attempt to craft a standard that specifically addresses the unique nature of the gig economy when it comes to misclassification. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and will provide an update when we see movement in this area – which could be sooner rather than later.

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LA COVID Fund Grants for Gig Workers, Small Businesses

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The unemployment rate in L.A. County is a staggering 20.9 percent, according to the California Employment Development Department – far higher than the state average of 16.3 percent, or even the national average of 11.1 percent. 

But today, there is good news. On Monday, the L.A. Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund started accepting applications for $5,000 and $15,000 grants to small businesses, nonprofits, and micro-entrepreneurs that operate in Los Angeles County and meet the eligibility criteria. Funded by the County and City of Los Angeles, in partnership with various philanthropic groups, the fund will award $3 million over the next four months.


What You Need To Know

  • The L.A. Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund is awarding $5K, $15K grants to small businesses, nonprofits, micro-entrepreneurs
  • Applications are accepted starting July 6
  • Grants are awarded with lottery system
  • Applications are weighted toward Veterans and entities that serve low-to-moderate income communities

The $5,000 micro entrepreneur grants are available to gig economy workers (such as Uber drivers), street vendors, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and 1099 workers with revenues of $100,000 or less, according to their most recent tax return. 

The $15,000 small business grants are available to active, for-profit business entities that have a yearly gross revenue of more than $100,000 but less than $1 million, according to their most recent tax return. Nonprofit groups are also eligible for a $15,000 grant if they are a registered 501(C)(3) that provides supportive services to low- to moderate-income individuals or families in L.A. County and also have an annual gross revenue of less than $1 million.

All applicants must verify revenue with a 2018 or 2019 tax return and apply online.

“There’s a lot of need out there,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the organization that is implementing the program. During the first 8-1/2 hours of the site going live Monday, LISC had received 3,000 applications.

Thrash-Ntuk expects to receive 12,000 by Friday, after which her group will begin vetting the first round of finalists. In total, about 400 entities will receive the grants, she said.

The grants will be awarded in six rounds starting July 6 and running every other week through September 18. Each round is available for one week, beginning Monday and closing Friday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. The applications are available in 15 languages, from Arabic to Hindi to Vietnamese. Finalists will be notified by email and must respond immediately, according to COVID Fund administrator, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Undocumented residents are eligible and will need to complete a W-9 form with an ITIN or business TAX ID number if selected as a finalist. 

Those who are selected to receive the grants will need to certify they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are also promoting the best interests of the community. While entities can submit a new application for each round, they can only receive one grant.

Designed to plug the gaps of the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Paycheck Protection Program that left out many of L.A.’s most vulnerable entrepreneurs and small business operators, the L.A. COVID grants will be awarded through a lottery system that is weighted to favor entities that are located in or primarily serve low-to-moderate income census tracts, Veteran-owned small businesses, and small businesses or nonprofits with less than $500,000 in yearly revenues. 

“Maybe they weren’t large enough or didn’t  make enough money. They were the kind of entities that weren’t super sophisticated and didn’t have a lot of the paperwork to quality for the EIDL or PPP, especially for some of our very small businesses,” said Thrash-Ntuk, citing hair stylists and handymen as examples.

The grants are part of a three-tiered program that also includes loans as well as coaching and technical assistance. Starting this fall, the L.A. COVID Fund will begin offering loans and micro-loans to the same entities that are also eligible for the grants. And it is currently working with community organizations to provide free coaching and one-on-one technical assistance to grant and loan applicants. 

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