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Differences between skilled freelance and gig work

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Those who have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs are looking for new and flexible ways to make money during these hard times. It’s become evident that many of them are turning to gig work and online freelancing to help, as many platforms, including Fiverr, have noted an uptick in registrations during this time.

According to a recent study by ADP, the gig economy has increased by 6 million people since 2010, as app-based ride-sharing, home rental, and food delivery services have literally changed the way we live. So it’s no surprise that conversations around the gig economy seem to have grown exponentially over the past decade too. Many of the more policy-oriented conversations point to broader concerns about the long-term financial security and safety of these types of workers. Many have cautioned against gig work, pointing to long and irregular working hours, a lack of stable income, and the absence of important social safety net protections such as health insurance and retirement savings.

This is an important and urgent conversation, but it’s also important—as COVID-19 has so harshly revealed—that we consider the differences between gig workers and skilled freelance workers. Lumping them together does a disservice to both groups. One thing that is becoming increasingly clear as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses is that digital workers, particularly skilled digital freelancers, are well positioned and well equipped to survive, succeed, and thrive.

For example, skilled freelancers are able to choose their own rates and dictate their own hours, taking on as much or as little work as they want at their desired pay. They also have the opportunity to work across a wide range of industries depending on their skill set, including graphic design, content writing, and web development. Additionally, while the rest of the world is taking part in the largest work-from-home experiment ever, more than 84% of freelancers were already working from home, with a strong clientele already built up.

Moreover, a recent survey done by Fiverr found that 71% of skilled freelancers across the U.S. are highly satisfied with their work and consider one of the top benefits of their work to be having control over when and how they work. For comparison, a separate survey found that 55.5% of Uber and Lyft drivers were dissatisfied with their work in 2019 and that 68% of drivers quit within their first six months of getting started.

On the other hand, gig workers are being tasked with the horrific decision of whether to risk their personal safety and deliver groceries and provide rides, or put their physical health ahead of their financial health and not work at all—a difficult decision for many who not only rely on gig work income but are also considered essential workers during this pandemic. According to a recent survey by Gig Workers Rising, a campaign aimed at educating and supporting app and platform workers, 53% of surveyed ride-share drivers were very concerned about reduced earnings during the pandemic, and 43% were concerned about contracting COVID-19 while on the job.

While these subsets of workers have their differences, and it is important to recognize them, they are all people who work hard and make up a huge and growing sector of the labor market, and they deserve the same protections and rights as other workers.

First off, yes, it’s great that now independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers are eligible to apply for loans and grants under the CARES Act. However, protections such as these need to become standard practice, put into law immediately—not just a privilege evoked during a global crisis.

These workers also deserve protections from both a financial and a health standpoint. For example, legal protections to help freelancers get paid on time would help make it easier for them to earn a sustainable living. Freelancers working on platforms are most often protected in this sense, but offline freelancers have zero support should a client defer on their payments. From a healthcare standpoint, a portable benefits system is necessary, as healthcare is one of the top concerns among freelancers. Freelancers and gig workers are currently responsible for paying astronomical fees for healthcare, a struggle that is even more glaringly problematic during a global health pandemic, but one that a portable benefits system could solve.

Gig workers such as drivers and delivery people are on the front lines these days, and they need to be rewarded, recognized, and protected as such. On the other hand, freelancers such as social media marketers and web developers are helping to keep America’s small businesses going by providing them with the services they need to move their businesses online or improve their existing online presence. While the work they do is different, it doesn’t make any single worker more or less important than the other, and it’s important that policymakers in D.C. see the situation as such.


Brent Messenger is the vice president of public policy and community at Fiverr



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Workers

‘Many workers in gig economy earn less than minimum wage’

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A study published by the Institute of Public Policy (IPP) of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) on jobs in platform economy or gig economy has documented below the minimum wage earning, despite working beyond eight hours a day.

The study ‘Is Platform Work Decent Work? A Case of Food Delivery Workers in Karnataka’ also said that none of the workers in the sample set of the study earned their base wage.

During the course of the study, which spanned over a year from March last year, the researchers spoke to workers engaged with various food delivery platforms in Karnataka.

Taking into consideration the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the industry, the study said, “The employers took advantage of widespread urban unemployment to force workers to accept lower earning rates for their work.”

Hence the study recommended that the government should recognise gig employees as workers and bring the sector within the ambit of labour laws and that there was a need to prescribe a minimum standard for earnings.

“The situation of the gig workers during the pandemic gives lie to the myth perpetuated by industry that these workers are independent contractors. The dependent and unequal relationship is patent in the unilateral behaviour of the employers to drive down working conditions,” the study observed.

Problem with incentives

Workers also claimed that they were not given the incentive despite reaching targets, even if they were a minute late. Workers also lost on the incentives part if they had technical glitches and network issues, even if they were in the basements or elevators for delivery.

According to the study, one of the food delivery platform did not pay incentives if workers “denied” more than one order a day and denials due to the fault of customers or the platform itself is not taken into consideration.

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SEC Proposes Gig Workers Get Paid In Equity, Unacademy Valued At $2B In New Round, And More – Crunchbase News

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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SEC proposes paying gig workers in equity

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a pilot program to allow tech companies like Uber and Lyft to pay gig workers a portion of their annual compensation in equity rather than cash.

The agency says the proposal is intended to modernize the system for compensation, in an effort to provide workers an opportunity to share in the growth of the business. Until now, SEC rules have not allowed companies to pay gig workers in equity.

Under the proposed rules, equity pay for gig workers would be capped at 15 percent of annual compensation or $75,000 in three years.

Funding rounds

  • India’s Unacademy raises round at $2B valuation: India-based online learning platform Unacademy has reportedly raised a funding round of between $75 million and $100 million at a valuation of $2 billion, with backing from Tiger Global.
  • RevLifter secures 3.3 million euros for e-commerce platform: RevLifter raised 3.3 million euros in a Series A round led by Gresham House Ventures and Maven Capital Partners. The London-based company is developing an e-commerce deals personalization platform that is poised for global scale.

Public offerings

  • Metromile to go public via SPAC: Metromile, the pay-per-mile auto insurer, announced that it plans to go public on Nasdaq through a merger with INSU Acquisition Corp. II, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

 

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Some CA Gig Workers May Owe EDD Overpaid Benefits

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The Conversation

Muslims have visualized Prophet Muhammad in words and calligraphic art for centuries

The republication of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in September 2020 led to protests in several Muslim-majority countries. It also resulted in disturbing acts of violence: In the weeks that followed, two people were stabbed near the former headquarters of the magazine and a teacher was beheaded after he showed the cartoons during a classroom lesson. Visual depiction of Muhammad is a sensitive issue for a number of reasons: Islam’s early stance against idolatry led to a general disapproval for images of living beings throughout Islamic history. Muslims seldom produced or circulated images of Muhammad or other notable early Muslims. The recent caricatures have offended many Muslims around the world. This focus on the reactions to the images of Muhammad drowns out an important question: How did Muslims imagine him for centuries in the near total absence of icons and images? Picturing Muhammad without imagesIn my courses on early Islam and the life of Muhammad, I teach to the amazement of my students that there are few pre-modern historical figures that we know more about than we do about Muhammad. The respect and devotion that the first generations of Muslims accorded to him led to an abundance of textual materials that provided rich details about every aspect of his life. The prophet’s earliest surviving biography, written a century after his death, runs into hundreds of pages in English. His final 10 years are so well-documented that some episodes of his life during this period can be tracked day by day.Even more detailed are books from the early Islamic period dedicated specifically to the description of Muhammad’s body, character and manners. From a very popular ninth-century book on the subject titled “Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya” or The Sublime Qualities of Muhammad, Muslims learned everything from Muhammad’s height and body hair to his sleep habits, clothing preferences and favorite food. No single piece of information was seen too mundane or irrelevant when it concerned the prophet. The way he walked and sat is recorded in this book alongside the approximate amount of white hair on his temples in old age. These meticulous textual descriptions have functioned for Muslims throughout centuries as an alternative for visual representations. Most Muslims pictured Muhammad as described by his cousin and son-in-law Ali in a famous passage contained in the Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya: a broad-shouldered man of medium height, with black, wavy hair and a rosy complexion, walking with a slight downward lean. The second half of the description focused on his character: a humble man that inspired awe and respect in everyone that met him. Textual portraits of MuhammadThat said, figurative portrayals of Muhammad were not entirely unheard of in the Islamic world. In fact, manuscripts from the 13th century onward did contain scenes from the prophet’s life, showing him in full figure initially and with a veiled face later on. The majority of Muslims, however, would not have access to the manuscripts that contained these images of the prophet. For those who wanted to visualize Muhammad, there were nonpictorial, textual alternatives. There was an artistic tradition that was particularly popular among Turkish- and Persian-speaking Muslims. Ornamented and gilded edgings on a single page were filled with a masterfully calligraphed text of Muhammad’s description by Ali in the Shama’il. The center of the page featured a famous verse from the Quran: “We only sent you (Muhammad) as a mercy to the worlds.”These textual portraits, called “hilya” in Arabic, were the closest that one would get to an “image” of Muhammad in most of the Muslim world. Some hilyas were strictly without any figural representation, while others contained a drawing of the Kaaba, the holy shrine in Mecca, or a rose that symbolized the beauty of the prophet. Framed hilyas graced mosques and private houses well into the 20th century. Smaller specimens were carried in bottles or the pockets of those who believed in the spiritual power of the prophet’s description for good health and against evil. Hilyas kept the memory of Muhammad fresh for those who wanted to imagine him from mere words. Different interpretationsThe Islamic legal basis for banning images, including Muhammad’s, is less than straightforward and there are variations across denominations and legal schools. It appears, for instance, that Shiite communities have been more accepting of visual representations for devotional purposes than Sunni ones. Pictures of Muhammad, Ali and other family members of the prophet have some circulation in the popular religious culture of Shiite-majority countries, such as Iran. Sunni Islam, on the other hand, has largely shunned religious iconography.Outside the Islamic world, Muhammad was regularly fictionalized in literature and was depicted in images in medieval and early modern Christendom. But this was often in less than sympathetic forms. Dante’s “Inferno,” most famously, had the prophet and Ali suffering in hell, and the scene inspired many drawings. These depictions, however, hardly ever received any attention from the Muslim world, as they were produced for and consumed within the Christian world. Offensive caricatures and colonial pastProviding historical precedents for the visual depictions of Muhammad adds much-needed nuance to a complex and potentially incendiary issue, but it helps explain only part of the picture. Equally important for understanding the reactions to the images of Muhammad are developments from more recent history. Europe now has a large Muslim minority, and fictionalized depictions of Muhammad, visual or otherwise, do not go unnoticed.With advances in mass communication and social media, the spread of the images is swift, and so is the mobilization for reactions to them. Most importantly, many Muslims find the caricatures offensive for its Islamophobic content. Some of the caricatures draw a coarse equation of Islam with violence or debauchery through Muhammad’s image, a pervasive theme in the colonial European scholarship on Muhammad. Anthropologist Saba Mahmood has argued that such depictions can cause “moral injury” for Muslims, an emotional pain due to the special relation that they have with the prophet. Political scientist Andrew March sees the caricatures as “a political act” that could cause harm to the efforts of creating a “public space where Muslims feel safe, valued, and equal.” Even without images, Muslims have cultivated a vivid mental picture of Muhammad, not just of his appearance but of his entire persona. The crudeness of some of the caricatures of Muhammad is worth a moment of thought.[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Suleyman Dost, Brandeis University.Read more: * Muslim schools are allies in France’s fight against radicalization – not the cause * Why there’s opposition to images of MuhammadSuleyman Dost does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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