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House Democrats to vote to take controversial California ‘gig economy’ regulations national

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The House will vote Thursday on Democratic legislation that would nationalize California’s efforts to unionize drivers for Uber and Lyft and others in the “gig economy.” The legislation would reclassify many gig workers as traditional employees rather than contractors.

The legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, combines a number of union wish list items into one package. Among the items is language that “prevents employers from misclassifying their employees,” as the Education and Labor Committee’s fact sheet on the bill puts it.

The distinction is important because employees are covered by state and federal overtime, minimum wage, collective bargaining, and other workplace rules. Contractors, on the other hand, are legally considered separate businesses, so those rules don’t apply.

Critics argue that the “gig economy” represents businesses avoiding paying overtime or providing other benefits. California passed legislation last year, Assembly Bill 5, that narrowly defines most workers as employees. It was enacted over the staunch opposition of Uber and Lyft.

The PRO Act would tighten the rules for considering workers employees and would use the same standards as Assembly Bill 5. A Democratic committee official said the change only covers collective bargaining and union rights, however. Federal and state rules on overtime and minimum wages wouldn’t be affected.

Proponents argue that the shift toward classifying all workers undermines the advantages offered by contract work. Lyft reported that 91% of people who drive for them do it less than 20 hours a week as a way to supplement their income. Traditional employees would lose much of that freedom, such as the ability to set their own schedules.

Campbell Matthews, communications manager for Lyft, told the Washington Examiner that the company was concerned the PRO Act “could threaten the flexibility and freedom that attracts millions of people to work with companies like Lyft.” She added, “These are parents who have busy schedules, retirees, students, or individuals who have another full-time job. They choose driving because it works for them.”

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and the top minority member of the Education and Labor Committee, slammed the bill. “By incorporating California’s newly enacted, highly restrictive definition of employee, the PRO Act will deprive millions of Americans the opportunity to work independently and start their own businesses,” she said.

The PRO Act is a top union priority. “An entire union-busting industry now works nonstop to block workers from exercising the freedom that the law is supposed to protect,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It is not an exaggeration to say this is the most significant piece of legislation that will come before the House this year.”

The legislation is set to be taken up by the House tomorrow, where it is expected to pass. The legislation is not expected to go far in the Republican-controlled Senate.



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Boost for gig economy as Reading and Leeds festivals set to go ahead

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Reading and Leeds music festivals will go ahead this summer following the Government’s announcement of a road map out of lockdown, organisers have said.

The sister events – known for their mix of rap, rock and pop – are due to take place between August 27 and 29 after both were cancelled in 2020 due to the onset of the pandemic.

According to plans announced on Monday, the Government hopes to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact by June 21 at the earliest.

This would mean larger events can go ahead and nightclubs can finally reopen.

Confirming their 2021 events would take place, the official Reading and Leeds Twitter account posted: “Following the Government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to get back to the fields this summer. LET’S GO.”

Reading will return to the Richfield Avenue venue while Leeds will once again take place in Bramham Park.

Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Disclosure and Queens Of The Stone Age are all scheduled to headline across the weekend.

Acts including Charli XCX, Yungblud, rapper Jack Harlow, rockers Neck Deep and Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid were recently added to the bill.

Latitude music festival lineup

Liam Gallagher is due to headline (Aaron Chown/PA)

The UK festival circuit has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic with its 2020 season effectively wiped out.

In January Glastonbury was cancelled for a second successive year after organisers said they had tried to “move heaven and earth”.

Greg Parmley, chief executive of Live, a trade body for the live music industry, welcomed the news but said the festival season was still in danger.

He said: “Today’s confirmation that Reading and Leeds music festivals will be taking place in August is a great moment that will give people hope of better times to come.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday has given some organisers confidence but there is still a large amount of uncertainty ahead of us. With the Government only committing to provide a week’s notice on the lifting of all restrictions, this will mean for many it will just be too late and we will see further cancellations.

99% of Glastonbury tents taken home

Glastonbury was cancelled for a second time (Aaron Chown/PA)

“This is why, despite the good news today, the Government must commit to further sector-specific support for our industry in the budget as we start our long road to recovery.”

In response to the threat posed by the pandemic, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched an inquiry into the future of festivals.

Last month the committee wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask him to extend Government-backed insurance schemes to music and performing arts festivals.

Festivals added £1.76 billion in gross value to the economy in 2019, with almost one in three Brits watching Glastonbury on TV.

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Edtech, logistics and gig-economy to drive jobs as startups step up hiring

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After a year of job uncertainties and salary reductions, the startup ecosystem is stepping up its plans with most large gear up their growth plans. According to a survey by Scalar, venture capital-funded start-ups, especially in edtech, and gig-economy will be key drivers of the job market in 2021.

Live learning platform Vedantu plans to hire 1,500 employees across all levels with domain expertise in the field of technology, product, finance, strategy & HR this year. “Due to the tremendous potential of online learning in current times, it is our duty to ensure that all students and teachers get a perfect experience of our product. Hence, we are ramping up our across all domains from India’s premium B-schools and engineering institutes,” said Vamsi Krishna, CEO & co-founder, Vedantu.


Mumbai-based start-up Lido learning is looking at close to 1,000 employees in the next one month. The recruitment is diverse, spanning across roles like tutors, customer support personnel, sales and marketing executives, in addition to building strength for already existing teams. The numbers represent hiring around 500 tutors, and over 400 sales and customer support executives.

“There has been a big surge in startup hirings in the past two to three months and it is not only limited to fintech or All segments including consumer tech, SaaS, gaming and media tech are now picking up,” said Anshul Lodha, regional director at global recruitment consultancy Michael Page.

The Covid-19 outbreak impacted several as business contracted and many had to take harsh decisions of giving pink slips. For instance, Food tech platform Swiggy which had handed pink slips to over 1,400 employees after the pandemic broke out last year, has gone back to 2019 level hiring plans for the March quarter with an increased focus on technology and product functions.

“Attracting the right talent in engineering, product, data science & ML is our primary focus while also looking at strengthening our business category and supply chain teams for our new initiatives. This would be a mix of both entry-level roles (15-20 per cent) and lateral hires,” said Girish Menon, Head of HR at Swiggy.

The need to hire aggressively also comes at the back of fund raise that the startup ecosystem has seen as they see business demand rising. Walmart backed PhonePe managed to reach the milestone of 1 billion monthly payment transactions.

PhonePe has about 700 positions to close in 2021. “Despite the lockdown, our headcount grew by 700 people across roles since the end of February 2020 taking our employee strength to 2,240,” said a PhonePe spokesperson.

The Tiger Global-backed startup is also expanding its offline merchant network to 25 million (currently at 16 million) by the end of 2021 across rural and semi-urban areas.

This expansion will be creating 10,000 jobs across 5,500 talukas wherein people will be hired from the locally available talent pool to service the merchants.

Fintech unicorn Razorpay will be hiring 650 employees across its engineering, products, customer experience, sales and marketing teams in the next 10 months, to meet the growing payment and banking needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers. The Bengaluru-based startup had onboarded 550 employees in 2020.

According to Teamlease, freshers hiring is expected to be higher this year given that the 2020 pass-out intake just started around November-December 2020 and the activity has increased in Q1 of 2021. “Freshers hiring is expected to more than double compared to last year. Lateral is also in the positive trajectory, some of the roles that laterals are preferred are full stack developer, content writers (mostly copy writers) whereas for roles testing, sales, teachers and digital marketing are open to take freshers,” said Kaushik Banerjee, Vice President and Business Head of Teamlease & Freshersworld.

IPO-bound Zomato, which had laid off 13 per cent of its 4,000 workforce last year on account of Covid-19 related impact, is planning to hire 400 employees this year, according to reports.

Online grocery platform Grofers, another startup which is drawing up IPO plans, has an ongoing talent reinforcement primarily in technology, supply chain and demand functions. “Our focus continues to build high performing teams across the organization with a blend of fresh perspective and diverse experience,” said Ankush Arora, Head HR, Grofers.

Startup job openings

. PhonePe has 700 positions to close in 2021

. Razorpay to fill 650 positions

. Vedantu to hire 1,500 employees across all levels

. Swiggy to focus on technology and product functions

. Grofers looking at technology, supply chain roles

. Zomato planning to onboard 400 employees



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The impact of the gig economy on e-commerce and its sustainability

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The growth of the gig economy, where short-term contracts or freelance work prevail as opposed to permanent jobs, has enabled people to increase their income and run multiple ‘side-hustles.’

In the gig economy, participants enjoy the flexibility of choosing what to do and when to work, and the convenience of being matched up with potential clients through mobile apps.

In Kenya, ride-hailing apps and online professional workers comprise the lion’s share of the gig economy both in value and number of workers.

Research from Mercy Corps suggests that the offline Kenyan gig economy will reach USD28.95 billion in 2023 from USD19.6 billion in 2019 and will employ a total of 5.7 million workers.

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The growth of gig economy is fueled in part by mobile, internet and smartphone penetration and the proliferation of mobile money in Kenya. Mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa have become the second most-used payment channel in Kenya after cash.

Ecommerce has skyrocketed in Kenya with the number of customers and businesses running their transactions online rising. 

Glovo is an on-demand technology platform that connects customers with riders to get products delivered through a mobile app.

Priscilla Muhiu (pictured above), Glovo’s general manager for Kenya shares on the gig economy, e-commerce and COVID-19.

The impact of the gig economy on e-commerce and its sustainability – The gig economy has given Kenyans the freedom to work and live more efficiently and effectively. It has also opened up an innovative new revenue stream for the continent — allowing millions to take up flexible work on their own terms.

Gig work is becoming increasingly important as a potential pathway to socio-economic development and employment creation, given Africa’s unique status as the continent with the youngest population in the world amongst the highest youth unemployment rate.

Impact of Covid-19 to the business and how the company survived- As part of the protocols put in place by the government to stem the tide of the pandemic, consumers created and reinforced new online buying behaviors and habits.

Consumers were more motivated than ever to shop online and have deliveries made at their doorstep and the ripple effect of this was a 30 per cent increase in grocery orders in Kenya as reported by Glovo in 2020.

The evolution of online delivery space and the overall outlook of the on-demand delivery market- As the online retail space continues to expand, consumers are choosing click retail over traditional brick and mortar stores.

Online retail presents a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the Kenyan economy including job creation for riders and a business lifeline for restaurant owners.

This shift in consumer behavior, coupled with the advent of Covid-19 and increase in internet penetration, has seen the rapid growth of on-demand delivery start-ups.

What strategy plans does Glovo have for Kenya in 2021? – We are looking at offering more competitive delivery fees. We will continue to expand into new towns in Kenya and getting into various partnerships that will benefit the consumers.

Pricilla’s key lessons in life – You are not defined by what is in your head, you are what you do, you don’t have to feel like today is your day, you just have to act like it is. Actions may not bring happiness but there’s no happiness without action and also one of my favorite lessons is, life is not a shop for your pauses and your procrastinations.

 

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