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New Uber App Pairs Gig Workers With Employers

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The Uber Works app, which made its debut in Chicago on Thursday, is designed to match workers such as chefs and cleaners with companies looking to fill a temporary opening.

The app enables users to sift through jobs by location, pay and skills, Uber said, adding that it spent the past year testing it. Uber also said it plans to work with staffing companies, such as

TrueBlue Inc.,

that employ, pay and handle worker benefits. Similar to its ride-hailing service, Uber will use an algorithm to set the wages for jobs that employers list on its app, instead of the employers doing it.

Uber’s move to offer a service to gig workers, rather than employ them directly, comes as its mainstay business is under financial and regulatory pressure. Last month, California passed employment legislation intended to force companies that rely on gig workers to reclassify such independent contractors as employees. Uber and rival

Lyft Inc.

have spent much of the year opposing the measure, arguing that it would introduce new costs and hurt their drivers who prefer flexible work arrangements.

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The law threatens to upend Uber’s business model, which relies on gig workers such as drivers, and to further erode its bottom line. The company in August posted its largest quarterly loss, weighed down by competition in growth markets such as Latin America, slowing growth in its core ride-hailing business and one-time expenses related to its initial public offering.

Revenue grew 14% to $3.17 billion in the second quarter, Uber’s smallest quarterly increase. The company laid off more than 400 technical employees last month and pared back its marketing workforce in July.

Uber wants to tap into a lucrative market with its new app. Over a third of U.S. workers participate in the gig economy through their primary or secondary jobs, a 2018 Gallup study found. The International Labor Organization, using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, estimated that gig workers would account for 43% of the U.S. workforce by 2020.

Uber Works won’t be the first to connect temporary workers with potential employers.

Upwork Inc.

and

Fiverr International Ltd.,

which completed initial public offerings last year and this year, respectively, are among startups that have launched platforms to help connect freelancers with work. Venture-capital firms including Sequoia Capital back other players that offer a similar service.

Nevertheless, it shows how aggressively Uber is expanding into new areas.

Chief Executive

Dara Khosrowshahi

said last week that the company was experimenting with merging some of its services onto the same app. Uber’s offerings include ride-sharing, food delivery and on-demand helicopters. It is also ramping up hiring for its freight business at a planned hub in Chicago.

For an increasing number of Americans, a patchwork of gig work is the norm, while others have become so-called independent workers because they take second jobs through digital platforms like Uber or Etsy to make ends meet. But nearly all face the challenges of inconsistent income and access to benefits.

The Uber Works app would generate revenue by charging businesses a fee after a position has been successfully filled, an Uber spokesman said. The fee will depend on how much work a job seeker completes.

Uber will set compensation for jobs based on such factors as regulatory requirements and cost of labor in an effort to “ensure a high fill rate for available shifts,” the spokesman said.

That business model, though, could put Uber at risk of drawing more government scrutiny, said

Sanjukta Paul,

a law professor at Wayne State University. Traditionally, staffing firms share some responsibility with employers in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly.

“An app that connects workers with customers, while disclaiming any employment relationship, can raise precisely the same problems around issues like price-fixing and joint bargaining,” Ms. Paul said.

The challenges also extend beyond potential regulatory hurdles and stiff competition. Until now, Uber has focused on recruiting only drivers, whereas its new endeavor entails matching employers with people for a range of jobs. That is more difficult—and the reason most staffing firms focus on filling vacancies in specific industries or categories, like remote work, said

Louis Hyman,

a professor at Cornell University’s industrial and labor relations school.

“Uber’s model has worked before because driving is an interchangeable skill in a space that is outside the office,” he said. “Staffing is a very different business than delivering people or food from point A to point B. It’s not going to be as easy as they think.”

It is possible, though, that Uber could modernize and improve staffing in ways not yet conceived, as it did with the taxi business.

“So far nobody has found the secret sauce to disrupt staffing,” said Barry Asin, president of Staffing Industry Analysts, an independent research firm focused on the gig economy. “One of the big questions in the space for some time has been, Who’s going to become the Uber of staffing?”

A potential advantage for Uber is that it already has relationships with hundreds of thousands of drivers, who are essentially people who are open to short-term job opportunities, Mr. Asin said. “They may not love driving but Uber made it easy for them to find work,” he said, adding that those same people may be inclined to give Uber a chance at helping them find other jobs, too.

Write to Preetika Rana at preetika.rana@wsj.com and Sarah E. Needleman at sarah.needleman@wsj.com

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Former Disney musicians get new gig with Jolly Creek Society Orchestra

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. – On Oct. 3, members of the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra played their last gig together at Hollywood Studios in Disney World.

It was the last performance after more than three decades at the Grand Floridian Resort, where they entertained guests since 1988. But this holiday season, the gang is back on stage only at a different venue.

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“Before you would call our orchestra Grand and now, I would call our orchestra jolly ‘cause we are the Jolly Creek Society Orchestra,” Davy Jones, a trumpet player, and interim band leader said about their new opportunity to bring some smiles at the Jolly Creek Festival and Marketplace in Kissimmee.

“After losing our position at Disney, we were so fortunate to be offered this because now we can play together again. We get to pursue our livelihood and all our friends get to come out and see us,” Jones said.

Jones, who has been with the orchestra since day one, recalled how special and significant their time at the Grand Floridian was.

“Over those years, all of us in the band got to make friends with all the guests that came through. Seeing a lot of them come back the next year with their kids and then later with their grandkids,” he said.

Now they’re looking forward to creating new memories with guests who’ll be enjoying the Jolly Creek Festival.

“It’s turned out to be a wonderful thing for us and we can’t thank the staff here at Jolly Creek enough,” Davy said. “Music is life. And it’s our life, it’s what we think of when we wake up in the morning.”

Jones said the orchestra couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity to do what they love again on stage.

“We’re all lifelong musicians, this is what we do for a living, this is our passion,” he said. “Making music with people you care about and that’s what our band is-is a group of friends that has been able to hang together after the Disney job so we’re just happy for it all.”

The festival was created to keep live entertainment alive during these uncertain times for the industry. Jolly Creek has contracts with more than six Central Florida entertainment acts and production companies.

“They have reached out to the entertainment community, almost all the employees here are from Disney, Universal, different theaters,” Jones said.

From now through Jan. 1, the orchestra will be delighting guests in a winter wonderland setting every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A portion of the proceeds will go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Guests are required to wear face-coverings throughout the festival and are expected to maintain social distance.

For information on tickets and pricing, click here

Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

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GigSmart saw 460% jump in gig work postings since pandemic began

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Dive Brief:

  • GigSmart, a mobile staffing app, saw a 460% increase in hourly gig postings since March, even as companies closed down and laid off workers due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Nov. 17 announcement from the company.
  • Many of the placements were in construction, food service and warehouses — all industries hard hit by the pandemic lockdowns. 
  • GigSmart also increasingly had its workers placed in healthcare, particularly at senior living facilities, the announcement said. “We have a high turnover rate because it can be a challenging environment to work in,” Susie Stebbins, director of HR for Senior Housing Options, said in a statement.

Dive Insight:

GigSmart’s sharply rising usage numbers reflect one avenue for talent management post-pandemic. A June Gartner report noted that changes to workplace protocols instigated by the pandemic may lead to an increase in contingent work, something that could shape people strategy for years to come. Employers turn to contingent hires to save money and improve efficiency, Gartner said key considerations during the pandemic era.

Changes wrought by COVID-19 only heightened current trends in the contingent work space. A February PeopleReady report said that gig workers were aiming to take on more work in 2020. And a September 2019 Randstad survey said that 1 in 4 companies were replacing employee positions with contingent jobs in an attempt to remain agile in a tough market.

Before the pandemic, employers more broadly were shifting to what Randstad called a total talent management model — “an organization’s acquisition and management of all human talent, including permanent hires and contingent workers, as well as non-human talent such as robots, AI, software, and automation.” That shift comes with its own challenges; back in 2018, companies were still figuring out how to organize people data and understand exactly who worked for them.

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Gig economy ‘crisis’ needs basic regulation: TWU

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The gig economy is in “crisis” and there is a need for urgent action from the federal government after the deaths of five delivery riders in Australia in the last two months, Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Michael Kaine said.

On Monday night an UberEats rider died following an accident on a road in Sydney’s CBD. He is the fifth delivery rider to die on Australian roads in just the last two months.

The recent tragedies have reignited calls for the federal government to step in and regulate the gig economy, especially on the definition of employee and private contractor, to ensure gig economy workers are afforded the same benefits and protections employees receive.

The federal government has largely brushed aside concerns and said regulation of the gig economy is a matter for state governments.

UberEats
Crisis in progress: The gig economy is crying out for better regulation according to the TWU

With four of the recent deaths happening in Sydney, the New South Wales government has this week established a taskforce to investigate if improvements are needed to improve the safety of delivery riders, while the Victorian government considers to consult on the final recommendations of its inquiry into the on-demand economy.

This push for federal regulation is being driven by the Transport Workers’ Union, which has been bringing attention to the recent deaths and campaigning on the issue for several years.

Its national secretary, Mr Kaine, said action is needed to better protect workers in the gig economy, especially delivery riders.

“We’re now in a position where it’s quite clear there is a crisis here. Workers are under incredible pressure – they are left to their own devices, they’re not trained and they’re given no protective equipment to support them when working,” Mr Kaine told InnovationAus.

“They’re left at the whim of a company and an algorithm. They have to answer jobs in seconds and if they fail to do that they can be kicked off the platform. There’s a perfect storm against them – it’s a recipe for disaster. The time has come for urgent action.

Delivery riders are not given adequate training, proper safety gear or provided with insurance, and their families are not afforded compensation, Mr Kaine said.

The TWU this week wrote to federal Workplace Relations Minister Christian Porter calling for an urgent inquiry into food delivery companies such as UberEats.

“We’ve written to him before and he simply relies on the old fashioned notion of employee and independent contractor. The time has come in the modern economy to accept that is not good enough. We’ve called on him to lodge an urgent inquiry to investigate UberEats and other food delivery platforms,” Mr Kaine said.

The federal government should also establish a tribunal to inquiry into the gig economy and hold the tech companies to account, he said.

In response, Mr Porter said that the safety of delivery riders is a matter for state governments, but rider safety will be included as a priority agenda at the next meeting of national work health and safety ministers.

“Every worker, no matter how their employment arrangements are structured, has the right to a safe working environment and to come home to their families at the end of each day. For delivery riders, maintaining that safe work environment is a state and territory government responsibility,” Mr Porter said in a statement to InnovationAus.

“However, it is clear that a problem exists in relation to delivery riders and changes need to be made by state and territory governments to prevent further injuries or loss of life. While the Commonwealth has no direct authority to make changes in this area, it can play a leadership role on issues such as this.”

But Mr Kaine said that while state governments have a “residual function” in schemes such as worker compensation, the federal government can take action.

“We’re now getting to the stage where this inaction has shifted responsibility onto government. You can’t continue to ignore circumstances where workers are exploited and they’re literally dying and avoid responsibility and accountability to the community for that,” he said.

“We’ve been saying this for a very long period of time and the response we’ve been getting back is dismissive, and falls back on ancient notions of artificial legal labels and that’s not going to do the job in the modern economy. This federal government needs to get up to speed, to come into the 21st century and figure out what it is they need to be doing to make a difference.

“This is an indictment on the federal government that they are so ideologically paralysed that they can’t see what’s right in front of them – reform is needed.”

Shadow workplace relations minister Tony Burke said the federal government does have a role to play in regulating the sector and protecting delivery riders, and the claim that those completing this work are independent contractors “denies reality”.

“It’s not safe and it needs to be, it’s not secure work and it needs to be and we can’t have a situation where for the sake of convenience we put up with there being a section of the Australian workforce that effectively has no rights,” Mr Burke told ABC News.

“It’s chilling. When you think that the responsibility for their safety is being governed not by an employer but by an algorithm, that’s how they’re working. When they work, whether they work, when they get a shift and how quickly, it’s all being governed by an algorithm.”

At the state level, the NSW government this week launched a new taskforce to investigate whether the recent deaths of delivery riders in the state could have been avoided and if better protections are needed. The taskforce will be led by SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW.

The inquiry will also inform another piece of research being conducted by the Centre for Work Health and Safety, which is examining potential regulatory reforms to improve safety in the gig economy.

In Victoria, a two-year inquiry into the on-demand workforce, led by former Fair Work Ombudsman, recommended earlier this year that the federal government take the lead on a number of significant reforms to the gig economy, including clarifying the worker status issue, a new agency to facilitate streamlined support and fast-tracked resolutions and a code of conduct.

“It was the universal view of those participating in the inquiry that any change should be led nationally. Reforms confined to a single state risk creating yet more complexity and inconsistency and could impose an unnecessary regulatory burden on national businesses,” Ms James said in the report.

“The Commonwealth is therefore best placed to deliver genuine choice, fairness and certainty for workers and business. The inquiry suggests it should grasp this opportunity to deliver the recommendations set out in this report and make balanced and fit-for-purpose revisions to the current system.”

Consultations on the final report from the inquiry closed in October, with the Victorian government now considered these and the report’s recommendations.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email or Signal.

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