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“Swift response” needed to protect ‘gig’ workers

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THE INSTITUTION of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has called for a “swift response” to a UK High Court ruling that ‘gig’ workers should be offered the same protection as permanent colleagues.

The recent judgement found that workers in the UK gig economy were not being granted the rights they are entitled to under European safety and health law, including the provision of personal protective equipment and the right to stop work in response to serious and imminent danger.

IOSH, which has long called for greater protection for non-permanent and ‘gig’ workers, says it is crucial such measures are implemented quickly, adding that the importance of good safety and health standards is emphasised by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the urgent need to support both occupational and public health.

It also believes that businesses should already be offering protection to ALL workers, whether they are permanent or temporary.

In addition, it has highlighted that the UK Government guidance on Coronavirus clearly states that workers should not be forced into unsafe workplaces and the health and safety of workers and visitors, and public health, should not be put at risk.

“IOSH welcomes recognition from the High Court that ‘gig’ workers should have the same occupational safety and health protections as employees and emphasises that responsible organisations should already be protecting workers during this pandemic, to support both occupational and public health,” said Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH. 

“No one should have their safety and health put at risk by the work they do, regardless of whether they are on a permanent contract or a ‘gig’ worker. We would like to see a swift response to this to ensure this is the case.

“It’s vital that those in the ‘gig economy’ who provide services to the public, such as road transport drivers, taxicab drivers and chauffeurs, are not exposed to Covid-19 at work.” 

According to TUC estimates, one in 10 adults – about 4.7 million people – are involved in ‘gig economy’ work.

IOSH has previously highlighted safety and health risks around ‘gig’ work. In 2017, it commissioned research that investigated levels of consistency in safety, health and wellbeing provisions for people in various types of employment. The study showed how workers operating in non-permanent work report receiving fewer provisions than their permanent, full-time colleagues. 

In the same year, it supported the Matthew Taylor report on ‘Good Work’ which highlighted the Health and Safety Executive’s view on the need to address the challenges faced by temporary workers and that employment contract arrangements do not change what employers must do – they have a duty to manage workplace risks and should treat workers on non-standard contracts no differently to other workers. 

IOSH is also seeking inclusion of this imperative and promotion of the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive 2019/1152 (which covers all workers, including zero-hours and platform work) in the new EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-27, to help encourage policy action from Member States. 

The Institution will continue monitoring global developments around classification and flexibility issues that potentially impact workers’ wellbeing.

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Workers

New weekly unemployment claims in state rise to 17,130, gig worker claims spike – Sterling Journal-Advocate

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DENVER — An additional 17,130 people filed for traditional unemployment benefits in the week ending Nov. 28, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday, an increase of 2,001 from the week prior.

The number of people in Colorado who applied for state-level Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in that week rose nearly 93%, from 7,369 claims in the week ending Nov. 21 to 14,242 in the week ending Nov 28. That program is assistance for gig workers, the self-employed and others who wouldn’t normally qualify for regular benefits.

CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney said the increases in that segment of claims coincided with 15 counties in Colorado going to higher levels of COVID-19 restrictions and may also be driven by claimants exhausting other types of benefits.

The total number of continuing claims made in the state was at 224,076 for the week of Nov. 7, which include all state and federal assistance programs, up 10,373 from the week before.

The amount of regular benefits paid out by the department declined by $2.4 million from the prior week to $30 million.

Several unemployment beneficiaries are expected to receive a one-time $375 payment from the state coffers after Gov. Jared Polis ordered payments as a small stimulus.

Nationwide, the U.S. Labor Department said 712,000 Americans filed for first-time benefits in the period, an increase of 75,000 from the week prior.

© 2020 BizWest Media LLC

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DoorDash CEO Calls For 3-Step Plan To Modernize Workplace Law To Match Gig Innovation | Fisher Phillips

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In a recent op-ed penned in Business Insider, DoorDash co-founder and CEO Tony Xu laid out a three-step plan necessary to ensure that our nation’s workplace laws stay current to address the ever-growing gig economy by creating a hybrid model of worker somewhere between employee and independent contractor. The November 29 piece also discusses some of the ways in which his company and similar businesses have been instrumental in providing needed services to consumers and all-important compensation for workers looking to manage through the pandemic and ongoing financial crisis.

Some Facts And Figures

Xu explains why he think gig work has become a necessary component to the country’s economy, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. He notes that:

  • 7 million new workers joined the company’s platform since March 2020 to perform work;
  • during the first six-and-a-half months of the pandemic, workers on his company’s platform earned nearly $3.5 billion;
  • of that, $2.1 billion was earned by workers who live in zip codes with above-average Black and/or Latinx representation;
  • 76% of workers indicate that working for DoorDash has had a positive impact on their ability to provide for themselves and their family;
  • 91% of DoorDash workers work fewer than 10 hours per week, with an average of four or fewer hours;
  • 4 out of 5 DoorDash workers say that gig work is not their main source of income; and
  • more than 3 out of 4 of them say they have another job or are in school.

Why Is Innovation Needed?

Regular readers of this blog will appreciate these words from Xu: “Instead of getting caught in the no-win dichotomy of employment versus independent contracting, we need a third way that recognizes that this new approach to working is here to stay. That’s because workers want it and it provides the legal protections and benefits they deserve — it’s as simple as that.” He notes that the overwhelming support that Proposition 22 received from California voters is a testament to the importance of flexible work – and all the more reason why a new path is needed when it comes to workplace laws. “This is a signal to the rest of America that change is vital and now is the time for innovative solutions across the country,” he says.

Xu notes that he and his company are taking the lead and partnering with policymakers and a variety of stakeholders – including workers – in the hopes of building a legal framework that would support today’s workforce. “It’s a vision that reflects what Dashers have told us works best for them — not the workforce of 75 years ago,” he says, referencing the federal wage and hour law (the FLSA) that was crafted at a time that no one could have conceived of the concept of gig economy work as it currently stands.

So What Would Innovation Look Like? A 3-Step Plan

Xu suggests the need for a three-pronged platform to create the system necessary to support the gig economy of today. The three keys? It needs to be portable, proportional, and flexible. The system, as he proposes, would allow app-based gig workers to maintain their independence while getting access to employee-like benefits.

  • Portable: By connecting benefits to individual workers, individuals could freely move from platform to platform without interruption or loss of funding.
  • Proportional: Workers would receive the benefit of accident coverage and workers’ comp-like insurance in proportion to the engagement they have with a particular gig company.
  • Flexible: Gig workers would be able to choose the benefits they want or need, retaining the same sort of freedom that they enjoy with gig work itself.

Xu also notes that protections against workplace discrimination and harassment should exist for every worker – “full stop” – in any revised system.

This op-ed is another positive step towards advancing the conversation in this area. I recommend you read the entire piece here. We’ll continue to monitor this debate and report back with further developments.

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New weekly unemployment claims in state rise to 17,130, gig worker claims spike – The Fort Morgan Times

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DENVER — An additional 17,130 people filed for traditional unemployment benefits in the week ending Nov. 28, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday, an increase of 2,001 from the week prior.

The number of people in Colorado who applied for state-level Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in that week rose nearly 93%, from 7,369 claims in the week ending Nov. 21 to 14,242 in the week ending Nov 28. That program is assistance for gig workers, the self-employed and others who wouldn’t normally qualify for regular benefits.

CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney said the increases in that segment of claims coincided with 15 counties in Colorado going to higher levels of COVID-19 restrictions and may also be driven by claimants exhausting other types of benefits.

The total number of continuing claims made in the state was at 224,076 for the week of Nov. 7, which include all state and federal assistance programs, up 10,373 from the week before.

The amount of regular benefits paid out by the department declined by $2.4 million from the prior week to $30 million.

Several unemployment beneficiaries are expected to receive a one-time $375 payment from the state coffers after Gov. Jared Polis ordered payments as a small stimulus.

Nationwide, the U.S. Labor Department said 712,000 Americans filed for first-time benefits in the period, an increase of 75,000 from the week prior.

© 2020 BizWest Media LLC

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