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Canada’s top court rules in favor of Uber driver in gig economy case, Auto News, ET Auto

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After the ruling, an Uber spokeswoman said the company would amend its contracts "to align with the court's principles", without giving details.
After the ruling, an Uber spokeswoman said the company would amend its contracts “to align with the court’s principles”, without giving details.

OTTAWA: Canada’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of a driver in a gig economy case that paves the way for a class action suit calling for Uber Technologies Inc to recognize drivers in Canada as company employees.

UberEats driver David Heller had filed a class action suit, challenged by Uber, aiming to secure a minimum wage, vacation pay and other benefits like overtime pay. Drivers are now classified as independent contractors and do not have such benefits.

Heller’s attorney said the decision allowing him to sue was important, but only a small first step in a case that will probably take years to litigate.

The ride-hailing company’s contract allows arbitration, but not class-action lawsuits. After the ruling, an Uber spokeswoman said the company would amend its contracts “to align with the court’s principles”, without giving details.

“Going forward, dispute resolution will be more accessible to drivers,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

Two days ago, California said it plans to ask a state court judge to force Uber and Lyft Inc to classify their ride-hail drivers as employees rather than contractors.

Canada’s 8-1 Supreme Court ruling dismisses an Uber appeal to an Ontario high court ruling that said the Uber’s arbitration clause violates provincial labor rules and is “invalid and unenforceable.”

The arbitration process, which must be conducted in the Netherlands where Uber has its international headquarters, costs about C$19,000 ($14,500). Heller earned between C$21,000 and C$31,000 per year.

“This was an access to justice case,” said Michael Wright, one of Heller’s lawyers. The court essentially ruled that “a stronger party was taking advantage of a weaker party in an unfair manner,” said Wright.

Now Heller can restart his class action suit, Wright said, but the matter will not be settled soon.

“This is the first round in a series of rounds,” said Wright, a labor and employment lawyer with Wright Henry LLP in Toronto, adding that it could take “a few more years.”

Uber shares were down 2.7% around noon Eastern Time.

Also Read: Uber pares back digital wallet ambitions, head of unit quits



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Gig Economy Digital Platforms Get Tax Reporting Rules from OECD

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Daily Tax Report: International

July 3, 2020, 9:01 AM

A new global tax reporting framework for digital platforms released by the OECD on Friday seeks to promote standardized rules for how individuals on those platforms report their revenues.

Such platforms, including peer-to-peer online marketplaces, food delivery companies and sharing economy companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc., are a rapidly growing segment of many countries’ economies, but tax authorities are finding it hard to tax them effectively. The OECD is aiming to create consistency among tax administrations’ measures and to help digital platforms avoid unnecessary reporting burdens from differing unilateral rules.

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New lucrative offers for gig & blue collar workers to fill roles, Technology News, ETtech

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Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Gig workers are back in demand, although big technology firms and offline retailers are unable to fill roles quickly since many of these workers have returned to their hometowns following the Covid-19 induced economic crisis.

Open positions for gig and blue-collar staff were at 250,000 in March, but increased to 600,000 in April and currently stand at around 500,000, according to TeamLease data.

The vacant positions that companies such as Amazon, Zomato, Swiggy and PharmEasy, as well as Future group’s BigBazaar, are seeking to fill include ones in warehouse management, packaging and delivery, and for electricians, cooks, ward-boys, operations and healthcare workers.

Interestingly, these companies are offering the gig workers three-times their previous salaries and an additional 15% incentive compared to levels before the pandemic. They have also offered flight tickets and are going ahead with virtual onboarding, experts tracking the space said.

Online grocer Grofers, for instance, has hired people from industries deeply impacted by the current crisis — manufacturing, textiles and car rentals.

“We also encouraged supply chain hiring through referrals by giving bonuses to those who are referring friends and family for work and collaborated with other platforms for their delivery fleet,” said Rohit Sharma, head of supply chain at Grofers.

The demand for workers and incentives offered, however, differ across industries, the experts said.

“These workers now have ‘virtual job fairs’ wherein they can choose multiple companies to work and onboardings are done within an hour, from the earlier 15 days at least,” said Kaushik Banerjee, vice president and business head of TeamLease.

The volume of hiring, too, has largely increased.

Further, startups such as Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket, Urban Company and Flipkart, are now training these employees in soft skills virtually, in just one-three days, and have pushed the envelope with respect to workforce safety measures.

“Over the last two months, we have hired over 3,000 people for our supply chain operations, and plan to hire another 2,000 warehouse and delivery staff in the coming months,” said Sharma of Grofers.

Amazon India is offering close to 20,000 temporary jobs in its customer service department. The new positions are open in Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore, Noida, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Mangaluru, Indore, Bhopal and Lucknow, it said in a statement.

Background verification has also become a significant part of such onboarding and firms are doing so even if the workers are away from metro cities and are only expected to return once the situation normalizes.

“During the lockdown, we built a digital background checks service through which complete onboarding is done virtually and…in a few minutes,” said Varun Mirchandani, co-founder of background verification firm HelloVerify.

The electronic Know Your Customer forms are being undertaken through WhatsApp, emails and SMSes.

Swiggy, for instance, said its onboarding and training has gone fully digital over the last few months.

Further, onboardings are now being completed in one hour, a stark shift from the earlier process of walk-ins where the process took at least two weeks.

“We moved to 100% digital learning during the delivery partner onboarding stage by December 2019. During Covid-19, we banked on our Zero Touch Learning approach and achieved 100% of the learning interventions to be driven digitally,” a Swiggy spokesperson said.



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Tom Stimson: Gig Economy ‘Is Going to Save’ Live Events Industry

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If you thought you could make minor tweaks to your business model in the hopes of skating through the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus outbreak around the world, think again.

The financial struggle remains severe almost four months after the pandemic reached U.S. shores and, at least in some segments of the AV and live events industry, there’s no end in sight soon, says business consultant Tom Stimson in this week’s edition of his “The Show WILL Go On” webinar series.

“The lack of consensus about how to manage the pandemic is feeding uncertainty,” said Stimson. “That’s pushing the event economy further and further on down the road. Hybrid events are going to be difficult to pull off in the current climate. It’s pushed our recovery down a few more months.

“I think Q4 is going to be pushed more into streaming events. You need to get ahead of it. These are things that affect your clients’ best interests. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there,” he said.

Streaming events “may not be as fun or sexy” as traditional live events, “but it’s what we have right now,” said Stimson. “If you want the business, you’re going to have to claim some of that space.”

“We’re no longer in a sprint trying to get to September,” he said. “We’re now in a marathon that could last another year or more.” He says business stabilization comes with a cash flow plan, minimized expenses and broadened services.

Stimson advised business leaders to “look at every single expense, including rent, and ask yourself if it’s worth it” and explore strategic partnering with other small companies to help secure larger, more lucrative assignments.

“A lot of small companies sharing the risk on a large event is a big company,” said Stimson. “It’s time to move from defense to offense. Figure out what you can make happen and get out there and make it happen.

“Let go of the constraints of your old business model,” he said. “The gig economy is going to save our industry. Your business will continue to survive and deliver valuable service to your customers without the extra burden of overhead and the obligation that goes with it.

“There’s always going to be demand for gig employees and that demand is going to explode as our economy returns,” said Stimson.

Gig Economy

How to Succeed in the Gig Economy

In the gig economy, location still matters as much as it always has, said Stimson. Depth and quality matter too, of course, so businesses need to be “credibly broad on what you do” when location matters, he said.

If you’re in the right location for a given job, said Stimson, be the best value. If you have the right resource, make it easy to move, he said. If you are the best at what you do, don’t discount your specialization, said Stimson.

Hiring freelancers on retainer, setting up project-based fees and offering incentives and bonuses will position you for success in the gig economy, said Stimson.

“The same things that motivate your employees can motivate gig workers as well,” he said. “You want freelancers who are selling their craft, not just their time. Good freelancers will share what they know with your team, but not responsible for teaching them.

“A good freelancer in the gig economy wants to be involved in prep and planning for an event and they carry their own tools and accessories. They also respect the channel and offer tiered fees as a bonus,” said Stimson.

Business leaders can attract the best freelancers with standardized pay schedules, pre-production involvement, being treated in a similar way as full-time employees, training opportunities and loyalty, he said.



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