Connect with us


Federal Judge Refuses To Grant Injunction Against California’s Gig Economy Law, But Acknowledges ‘Likelihood of Irreparable Harm’ –



A federal judge this week declined to grant Uber and Postmates an injunction against Assembly Bill 5 (A.B. 5), the gig-economy law in California that is forcing many companies to reclassify their contractors as employees. 

Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California wrote that “the balance of equities and the public interest” favor enforcing the law, although she conceded that the two companies will likely experience some “irreparable harm” as a result. 

Many gig-economy companies and independent contractors are suffering across the state of California in the wake of A.B. 5 taking effect on January 1.

Filed in response to the ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, A.B. 5 imposes a much broader standard in determining if workers are contractors or employees. To pass the “ABC test,” a contractor must A) control his or her own workload, B) perform tasks that are not crucial to the company’s main scope of operations, and C) be “customarily engaged” in the work.

The legislation sent a slew of industries into disarray at the start of the year. Employees in California are entitled to benefits not offered to contractors, such as a minimum wage, health insurance, paid time off, and reimbursement for expenses. Experts estimate that ridesharing companies should expect to see a 20-30 percent increase in labor costs.

As a result, those companies have prepared to make major changes that will hurt the very people the law was supposed to help. Workers will first lose the flexibility that has come to define gig-economy work, as businesses have said they will need to start scheduling workers in tight shifts. And a multitude of operators will be laid off entirely. Under a 40-hour workweek, Lyft expects to kick 300,673 drivers to the curb if it experiences the more modest 20 percent increase in expenses, according to a Beacon Economics LLC study commissioned by the ridesharing company. 

As it currently stands, gig-economy businesses present some of the lowest barriers to entry, providing opportunities to lower-skilled, vulnerable populations. Lyft, for instance, merely requires that would-be drivers meet regional age standards, pass a background check, and have insurance, a license, and a decent four-door vehicle. The new regulations, however, would render ridesharing a more exclusive profession, forcing out workers who may otherwise struggle to find a well-paying gig. (As I’ve previously reported, 90 percent of app-based drivers in Manhattan are immigrants.)

Uber and Postmates said they will consider appealing the decision. (The rejected injunction has no bearing on the companies’ lawsuit against the state of California, which is still moving forward.) In a statement, Uber characterized A.B. 5 as “biased and overtly political,” a reference to the many exemptions granted to various industries under the legislation.

The law’s first iteration excluded doctors, hairstylists, real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, dentists, and others from having to comply. And the list keeps growing. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D–San Diego), the architect of A.B. 5, announced last week she would move to consider exempting freelance content creators and photographers, who are currently prohibited from completing more than 35 individual assignments for a single company without being hired as an employee. 

Journalists, translators, transcribers, digital marketers, and others vigorously pushed back against that restriction, with many claiming that they had lost thousands of dollars in contracts and that the legislation had decimated their livelihoods. The Pacific Legal Foundation also filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association, alleging First Amendment violations.

“Companies can simply blacklist California writers and work with writers in other states, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” Alisha Grauso, an entertainment writer and the co-leader of California Freelance Writers United (CAFWU), told Reason in December. “I don’t blame them.”

Perhaps most notoriously, Vox Media, who originally called A.B. 5 “a victory for workers everywhere,” severed ties with around 200 of its California freelancers who wrote for its sports site, SB Nation. They instead replaced those freelance positions with 20 part- and full-time positions.  

The law’s 35-piece-per-year publication cap “makes it impossible for us to continue with our current California team site,” wrote SB Nation’s John Ness in a statement.

A.B. 5 and its freelancer ramifications briefly united progressives and more fiscally conservative types, and Gonzalez became somewhat well-known for her combative Twitter exchanges with those negatively impacted by the legislation. “[Freelancers] shouldn’t fucking have to [work 2-3 jobs],” the assemblywoman told a detractor in December. “And until you or anyone else that wants to bitch about A.B. 5 puts out cognizant policy proposals to curb this chaos, you can keep your criticism anonymous.”

But in other exchanges, Gonzalez iterated a desire to hear out her constituents and get the law right. “Based on dozens of meetings with freelance journalists & photographers,” she tweeted last week, “we have submitted language to legislative counsel that we hope to have available next week to put into AB1850 which will cut out the 35 submission cap & instead more clearly define freelancer journalism.”

The moment was a major victory for a subset of workers whose livelihoods depend on their ability to set their own schedules and spread their work across many different businesses. In another similarly encouraging turn, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled last month that truckers must also be exempt from the legislation, writing that A.B. 5 “clearly run[s] afoul” of federal law pertaining to interstate commerce.

Uber and Postmates—along with the other gig-economy titans like Lyft and DoorDash—haven’t yet been so lucky, though the law does brush up against separate decisions filed by the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board. Both agencies ruled that gig-economy workers are indeed contractors, noting in particular that those workers may log on whenever they please and contract for competing companies. It is not uncommon, for example, to drive for both Uber and Lyft.

Should the courts not grant them a reprieve, those businesses are hoping that a November ballot measure may exempt them from the legislation. Though A.B. 5 did not exclusively zero in on the gig-economy behemoths, they were arguably the primary target, and a successful effort to exclude them from the law would be a large step toward rendering it moot.

Source link


Insurance platform Collective Benefits raises £3.3M to give gig economy workers a safety net – TechCrunch




The famous phrase “software eats the world” was originally coined to describe how technology gradually replaces the old industrial norms of production. But few realized that when Uber started to “eat” the taxi industry it would also be among the first harbingers of a new wave of what it meant to be “employed.” As similar gig economy platforms start to eat the old relationship between employer and employee — where some semblance of duty of care had developed — the gig platforms have yet to develop much caring for the gig worker. And as these platforms gain power, do they really want this to look like the re-emergence of serfdom? Gig work is coming to an industry near you, whether we like it or not.

Ideally, we need a new model that can deal with income minimums, benefits, insurance, pensions, etc., which responds to the dynamic way the world of work is evolving.

Collective Benefits is a startup aimed at tackling this growing “protection gap” created by the gig economy where so-called “self-employed” workers must often go without basic benefits such as family leave and sick pay, not to mention mental health support and critical injury pay.

The startup has today announced the closing of £3.3 million seed round led by U.K.-based Stride.VC, alongside existing investors Delin Ventures, Insurtech Gateway and several angels from executives at Uber, Deliveroo and Urban.

Collective Benefits has set out to build a tech platform that gives gig workers access to a full range of affordable, portable protections and benefits which they can carry around with them between the platforms they work on.

So instead of your benefits being tied to one employer, as is the current case, they can apply to any gig economy “employer” someone works for.

It’s also working with a number of on-demand service platforms who are giving their workforces access to these benefits. The startup will use the funding to further its growth and offering for gig platforms. A consumer service aimed at freelancers will follow later this year.

Anthony Beilin, CEO and co-founder of Collective Benefits, said in a statement: “There are six million self-employed workers in the UK, which includes both higher-paid freelancers and gig economy platform workers. Yet, neither group typically has a safety net — no holiday pay, no family leave, no mental health support, not even paid sick days. We are building Collective Benefits so that the gig economy workers are covered by the same protections typically reserved for full-time employees.”

The company provides a benefits platform for both gig economy platforms and self-employed freelancers (such as sick pay, family leave, and mental health support), but the platform is also designed to boost loyalty to the gig platforms amongst the workers, as well as reduce churn and talent acquisition costs.

Fred Destin, partner at Stride.VC, said: “We’re seeing services platforms gain unstoppable momentum in every segment of our lives, from rides to food delivery to freelancing. We need a new playbook. Collective Benefits addresses one of the core challenges in this brave new world of work, using technology to design and deliver a new type of safety net to all the participants in this fast-growing part of our economy.”

Robert Lumley, Director and Co-founder of Insurtech Gateway, said: “The insurance industry faces a massive challenge in keeping up with the extraordinary growth in self-employment. Collective Benefits has created entirely new insurance products for the self-employed not addressed by traditional insurers and accessible through a flexible tech platform that allows them to get the cover they need.”

The fact this startup has appeared just goes to show the market failure today due to the on-rush of new technology sprinting ahead of regulation. Some 96% of UK self-employed have no income protection, while 93% of UK self-employed have no health or critical illness coverage. PWC estimates that self-employed will account for 20% of labour force by 2025.

Source link

Continue Reading


How the industry is meeting the needs of the gig economy – COVER




Continue Reading


Montreal gig workers have to hustle, despite lack of labour protections




A few years ago, Shanti Gonzales started waking up in the morning with no voice.

At the time, she was working a gig where she would sing to rooms of rambunctious children at libraries and schools, and it took a toll.

No amount of honey and tea and lozenges helped. She often would wind up hoarse by the end of her shift, meaning she had to stop working — at that job, and at her other gigs.

“I didn’t have anything to lean back on. I didn’t have paid time off. I didn’t have health insurance, I didn’t have any benefits. I didn’t even have someone to cover for me,” she said.

“Without these protections, you feel trapped.”

Like many her age, Gonzales, 24, is working in what’s called the gig economy. Though the term may bring to mind jobs that involve some kind of online platform (such as Fiverr or Foodora), it also includes those who work independent contracts for short, fixed periods of time.

The rise of the gig economy has led to a problem: workers who are juggling several different contracts don’t always have the protections, such as a human resources department, or a union, that salaried workers do.

Gonzales graduated from McGill with a BA in English three years ago, and since then, she’s never had a full-time job. She has worked as a musician, nanny, arts educator, administrator, copywriter and playwright.

In some of those jobs, she has faced discrimination based on her gender, her race, and her age, she said. But she never had many avenues of recourse.

A ‘rolling back’ of labour protections?

According to John Paul Ferguson, a professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, the gig economy has less to do with the type of work people are doing and more to do with the relationship between the employer and the employee.

Along with his colleague Matthew Corritore, Ferguson is surveying gig economy workers in Montreal to better understand their realities.

Ferguson says while there are some good things about the gig economy — like how online platforms can make it easier for people to contract for work — he has concerns about the effect of the gig economy on workers’ rights.

In the past, policies were put in place restricting casual labour because of concerns about exploitation, underpayment and unfairness, he said.

“The worry that those of us who have studied employment for many years have is: how much of this is just a rolling back of some of these protections that we put on our employees in the past?”

The province’s major labour laws do not apply to people who are self-employed. However, Catherine Poulin, a spokesperson for Quebec’s Ministry of Labour, said some self-employed workers in the gig economy may actually have an employer-employee relationship with their employer, and therefore are protected.

Gonzales, for example, is considered an employee at some jobs, but considered self-employed at others.

Those who face discrimination are also entitled to the protections under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and can file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights commission, Poulin said in a statement.

Relying on a community

Gonzales says one of the most important aspects of the gig economy is knowing which gigs are good and which are not.

She relies on a community of people who meet up in person or chat over the phone to give each other advice about jobs and employers to avoid.

This tight-knit web of people also share opportunities with each other and recommend each other for jobs that may come up.

Gonzales said being a part of the gig economy can be isolating and leave people vulnerable because they don’t have co-workers.

“I think that’s why these little micro communities form. It’s the people: we’re ‘in it’ for each other. We’re in it to make sure that we can achieve each others’ goals, together. The community aspect is the thing I am fiercely protective of and fiercely invested in.”

Source link

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2019