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Gig Workers Don’t Need Lawmakers To Help Them Out Of A Job

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It’s a disconcerting time to be a freelancer in the coastal economies. Legislators are enacting laws that limit how much freelancers can work for a company without that company employing them full-time. The idea is that if these companies love freelancers so much, they should put a ring on it and hire them already.

Legislators are playing catch up with the gig economy, but so long as they’re mired in the old ways, they’re going to hurt freelance and gig workers with these new bills. Unable to think of a new way forward, they are relying on past solutions to solve new problems. This won’t work.

City and State hosted a recent talk on New York’s gig economy at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, with keynote speaker and sponsor of the gig-workers bill in the New York State Assembly, Sen. Diane Savino. Panelists were on hand from the machinists union, Handy, Tech:NYC, the Independent Drivers Guild, and Doordash to speak on the economic ramifications of the gig economy. To talk about protecting workers while building a tech economy were New Jersey Deputy Majority Leader Paul A. Sarlo, the vice president for public policy at Postmates, labor academics from the New School and Cornell, and a rep from the Business Council of New York State.

Notably absent were any actual freelancers or gig workers who could speak to their working conditions, interests, or needs. Instead, lawmakers, employers, and policy nerds congregated to tell the assembled crowd their plans for drastically altering the working landscape for freelancers. The panelists didn’t take any questions, so there was no way to clarify why they thought their top-down approaches would work.

State Lawmakers Are Meddling in the Gig Economy

Bills meant to give gig workers more rights are pending in New Jersey (tabled until Jan. 14, 2020), New York, and Illinois. The impetus for this talk was the outsized upset reaction to new gig-worker law AB5 in California, which plenty of freelancers are heralding as a disaster.

AB5 shows that laws to protect workers may take away more than they give. While lawmakers in New York and New Jersey feel that if they take more time they may be able to make proper adjustments to ensure fairness, these laws designed to protect workers will probably prohibit their free ability to earn a living.

Savino and the panelists were primarily worried about low-skilled workers: house cleaners (Handy), delivery personnel (Postmates), part-time laborers (Task Rabbit), and ride-share drivers (Uber and Lyft). “The average worker has seen tech improve their ability to work, but it’s also changed their ability to manage their time,” Savino said, discussing the prevalence of off-the-clock email checking. She discussed changes to consumer behavior, and the culture of instant, app-based gratification.

Labor-oriented lawmakers, academics, and union reps see low-skilled laborers seeking work in the app-based, gig economy and lament the lack of employment regulations that unionization and even full-time employment used to provide. They want workers to have access to health insurance, unemployment and disability insurance, standardized wages, and work weeks that other employees have.

However, employment scenarios that facilitate regulations on the contract and structure of the employee/employer relationship are not practical in many areas of the tech economy. People work on their own schedules and are not beholden to the apps for anything more than a connection to work.

Creative freelancers and gig workers who will inevitably be caught up in this law may find they are unable to control their own destiny. There is freedom in being able to decide when, where, and how much you work. And app-based gig work is not the only work available. U.S. unemployment rates are surprisingly low, and while those measures are not conclusive, they do speak to a trend.

How to Legislate the Gig Economy

The question that brought Savino to sponsor a law in New York was, “How do we regulate the gig economy in such a way … that workers seem to want now,” with human rights protections, unemployment, and disability? “How do we do that without disrupting the disrupting economy?” She said, “AB5 does not present the comprehensive protections that workers need,” but her reasoning was that the law already has “too many exemptions” and is the subject of pending lawsuits, leaving it unable to be fully implemented.

Ideas mentioned for ways to legislate gig and freelance workers include: state-administered benefits plans employees can access no matter which company they gig for; an hours cap for workers over which they would receive additional benefits; freelance worker unions that would have the power to collectively bargain with all the app companies and make standard agreements; limits based on whether workers are gigging part time or full time.

Lawmakers want to hold the apps accountable for workers’ choices to freelance and gig, with apps as the intermediary to clients and customers. The tech sector wants to operate much as it has been and provide benefits under its own direction. If government wants to provide protections for gig workers, perhaps it should propose programs that will work with gig workers, such as tax breaks for the self-employed and an option for workers to pay into unemployment and disability on their own, without employer sponsorship.

Savino lamented that as things stand, there will be 50 different state solutions. She wants the federal government to weigh in on how much workers are allowed to work, what benefits they are required to receive, and the agreements among apps, outlets, and freelancers.

Let Freelancers Do What They Do Best

With a background in labor, Savino’s model is the industrial economy. But that model is gone, and it’s not coming back. Basing new laws for worker protections on old models will harm workers, as it’s doing in California, where freelancers are being let go by the boatload.

The tech industry touts flexibility as the main thing workers want, while labor academics and lawmakers are worried most about leveling the playing field for workers and companies, creating portable benefits, and making sure standards don’t fall. Lawmakers worry low-skilled workers will be exploited and think that if they were employees, they would face less risk. Of course, employers exploit low-skilled workers all the time. With apps, workers take back some of their power.

While Savino and her counterparts in state legislatures across the country weigh their options, they should do what City and State absolutely did not — invite the workers in, hear from them, and find out what makes them eschew the traditional labor market in favor of their own hustle. It’s not enough to speak to industry leaders about what they think should happen or concessions they are willing to make. We need to hear from the millions of people that gig economy laws will displace.

Instead of regulating the relationship between freelancers and their clients, governments should work directly with freelancers to facilitate their ability to keep earning on their own terms, rather than creating obstacles for them to work. If legislators can’t do that, they should leave freelancers to do what they do best: work, hustle, and sort their own work/life balance.

The gig economy is not as broken as lawmakers believe it is. For many freelancers, it gives them exactly what they want.



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Jobs bloodbath, income loss for SA gig workers

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The majority of SA’s gig workers lost their jobs entirely during lockdown, while those able to work have on average lost four-fifths of their income.

This is one of the key findings of a report titled: “Gig Workers, Platforms and Government During COVID-19”, compiled by The Fairwork Project, a collaboration between the universities of Oxford (England), Cape Town, Western Cape, Manchester (England), Institute of Information Technology Bangalore in India and the Technical University of Berlin.

The report provides an analysis of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related lockdown on the estimated 35 000 gig workers in SA – those performing work for digital platforms like Uber, Bolt, Uber Eats, SweepSouth, M4Jam and food delivery apps such as Mr D Food – and reviewshow they are being supported by their employers and government.

The report found the non-standard employment status of gig workers has made them particularly vulnerable during the current economic shutdown, resulting in hundreds of job losses and with many gig workers reporting that just getting food to eat is their top priority.

“While a small number of platforms have stepped up during lockdown − for example, SweepSouth and M4Jam have tried to offset income losses for their workers − the majority of platforms have taken no responsibility to compensate workers for by far their major problem: loss of earnings,” reveals the report.

“Yet our survey suggests a majority of gig workers have lost their jobs entirely, while those able to work during lockdown have, on average, lost four-fifths of their income.”

Today is day 61 of SA’s national lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in companies taking a huge financial blow, with markets suffering losses unseen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Digital economy firms Uber, Airbnb, WeWork and Lyft earlier this month announced they will retrench thousands of employees, as a result of the economic downturn.

The report highlights that given the control they exercise over the welfare and conditions of their workers, SA’s platforms could and must do more to help. It outlines a series of measures they could be undertaking, including reduced commissions, loan deferrals, physical protection, healthcare assistance, sick pay, improved communication, and engagement with workers and their representatives.

According to The Fairwork Project, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of SA’s gig workers: delivery services, for example, have been essential to society during lockdown, remodelling their original business models to cater to the delivery of essential goods.

However, the relative lack of response from gig economy firms is also evident. It is highlighted in a graph based on 169 responses from gig workers which shows there is evidence for action on only 27 – just under 16% of the total responses.

[PICTURE] Graph

In particular, the report points out little is being done in relation to workers who become sick and there is little evidence of platforms improving management and supportive processes.

“There was no evidence of platforms addressing workers’ concerns about their lack of contractual status as employees. Finally, there was no evidence of platforms receiving, engaging with or taking action on COVID-19-related demands from workers or their representatives; despite there being groups and mechanisms by which this could occur,” notes the report.

Falling between the cracks

The breadth and depth of response by South Africa’s government in tackling the spread of COVID-19 has been recognised worldwide. However, as independent contractors, gig workers have been unable to access the support offered to formal employees, nor the support offered to those registered as small businesses, notes the report.

“If gig workers are to avoid destitution, government must take further action. Here, again, we outline a series of measures – pushing for gig workers’ de facto employee status to be recognised formally, but also ensuring the safety net of assistance covers gig workers.”

Last month, Uber and Bolt drivers and operators created a petition on Change.org, lobbying government to allow them to be included in the COVID-19 Relief Fund. They told ITWeb they feared their vehicles would be repossessed as their business had taken a huge blow during the lockdown.

In the longer term, The Fairwork Project suggests a legal resolution must be found to rescue gig workers from the employment-status limbo the pandemic has brought into sharp relief.

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Nevada launches system to accept gig workers’ weekly claims – FoxReno.com

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GiG strengthens iGaming offering to operators by adding Playtech’s iPoker to its platform – European Gaming Industry News

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International Game Technology PLC announces that it has today published its Notice of the 2020 Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) and 2019 Annual Report and Accounts for the period from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019. IGT provided information for the AGM, which will be held at IGT’s Registered Office, Marble Arch House, 66 Seymour Street, Second Floor, London, W1H 5BT, on June 25, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. British Summer Time (BST).

The Notice of the AGM and the 2019 Annual Report and Accounts can be found in the Investor Relations section of www.IGT.com, along with IGT’s 2019 Annual Report on Form 20-F. These materials can be viewed online and are also available for download in PDF format. IGT’s 2019 Annual Report on Form 20-F was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 3, 2020 and is accessible at www.sec.gov.

2020 AGM and COVID-19  

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with latest UK Government’s measures to restrict travel and public gatherings of more than two people, the AGM will be restricted to two attendees (for example, the Chairperson and one other Director), both of whom will be shareholders for the purposes of forming a quorum, in addition to the usual supporting staff, reduced to a minimum and bound to the strictest observance of the Governmental recommended precautions. The Company advises that other shareholders must not attend the AGM in person. Any other shareholder above the number necessary to form a quorum seeking to attend the AGM will be refused entry.

The AGM will be restricted to formal business only, and resolutions will be put to a vote on a poll. All shareholders are encouraged to vote using proxy voting in accordance with the instructions printed on the proxy form. Shareholders are strongly advised to appoint the Chairperson of the meeting as proxy to ensure their vote is counted. Details on how shareholders can vote via a proxy are available in the Notice of the AGM and in the accompanying proxy form. Proxy votes should be returned by 3.00 p.m. (BST) on June 23, 2020, in line with the requirements set out in the Notice of the AGM.

As usual, the results of voting on the proposed AGM resolutions will be published after the AGM and will be available on the Company’s website.

Shareholders can send any questions relating to the business of the AGM in advance of the meeting to the Company Secretary, International Game Technology Plc, Marble Arch House, 66 Seymour Street, Second Floor, London, W1H 5BT or [email protected]  Answers will be published as soon as possible in the Investor Relations section of www.IGT.com.

Further AGM updates  

Shareholders should be aware that arrangements for the AGM may change at short notice. The Board will keep the COVID-19 pandemic in consideration and recommend that shareholders continue to monitor the Company’s website and announcements for any updates in relation to the AGM.

 

About IGT :

IGT (NYSE:IGT) is the global leader in gaming. We deliver entertaining and responsible gaming experiences for players across all channels and regulated segments, from Gaming Machines and Lotteries to Sports Betting and Digital. Leveraging a wealth of compelling content, substantial investment in innovation, player insights, operational expertise, and leading-edge technology, our solutions deliver unrivalled gaming experiences that engage players and drive growth. We have a well-established local presence and relationships with governments and regulators in more than 100 countries around the world, and create value by adhering to the highest standards of service, integrity, and responsibility. IGT has approximately 12,000 employees. For more information, please visit www.IGT.com.

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