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MSIG Insurance (MSIG) has introduced Freelancer CashPlus, an insurance plan that dispenses daily cash benefits to help gig workers safeguard against income loss during a prolonged illness or injury.
According to the Ministry of Manpower, the number of freelancers stood at 211,000 in 2019 which made up 8.8% of the total resident workforce. This number is likely to trend up as more people go through a career change or seek alternative sources of income through contract or short-term work assignments.
Understanding the unique needs of this underserved segment, Freelancer CashPlus aims to simplify insurance for gig workers with flexible options, affordable premiums and hassle-free policy issuance.
Given the variability in gig work, MSIG has weighed up the potential concerns that customers may have over an annual policy commitment. With MSIG’s Freelancer CashPlus, a gig worker can stay protected with weekly premiums from as low as S$6.89 for a basic plan.
With two plan types to choose from, policyholders can expect to receive daily income benefit of S$120 per day for up to S$7,200 under the higher tiered Elite plan, in the event they are on hospitalisation or medical leave for a prolonged period.
MSIG offers a simple purchase experience for this product which is only available through its website. Approval of cover is instant and there is no medical examination required.
As part of MSIG’s commitment to help Singaporeans tide through this difficult period, Freelancer CashPlus will also expand cover for hospitalisation and outpatient leave due to COVID-19.
Mr. Steven Leong, Senior Vice-President, Consumer and Digital Distribution, MSIG Singapore said,
“Amidst the changing norms and emergence of digital platforms, a sizable number of workers have turned towards self-employment or flexible short-term model of work. While full-time employees might benefit from paid sick leave and hospitalisation leave, gig workers have no income to fall back on should they fall ill for a prolonged period. These are real challenges that gig workers face, which we hope to bridge through Freelancer CashPlus.”
One year after the historic ruling in Ontario that Foodora couriers are dependent contractors, organizers in the Greater Toronto Area are setting their sights on legislative change to improve gig workers’ working conditions.
Announced today, the Foodsters United campaign has been relaunched as Gig Workers United. The name change also comes with a broadened scope, as organizers seek to support all app-based delivery workers in the GTA.
First launched in summer 2019, the Foodsters United campaign fought to unionize Foodora couriers in the GTA with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Along the way, it brought about the Ontario Labour Relations Board’s landmark decision in February 2020 that Foodora couriers were dependent — not independent — contractors, which affirmed their right to unionization.
“Legislation has not kept up with the pace of technological change.”
But that win was bittersweet, as Foodora pulled out of Canada three months later. The company cited profitability issues, despite posting surging first-quarter revenues in 2020.
Its parent company, Delivery Hero, subsequently agreed to a $3.46-million settlement with former Foodora couriers in Canada.
“The Foodsters have broken many barriers to become the first app-based workers in Canada to form a union, but the fight doesn’t stop here,” said Jan Simpson, national president of CUPW, in today’s press conference.
Supported by CUPW, Gig Workers United is calling for livable wages, enforcement of workers’ rights and health and safety support. The key, organizers said, is changing labour laws to stop worker misclassification.
“Legislation has not kept up with the pace of technological change,” said Brice Sopher, an organizer and courier with Uber Eats, at the press conference.
“It’s time that … our politicians wake up and make those changes and address them now because an increasing segment of the population is going to be subject to this situation. So if we don’t stop it now, then we’re going to have a much more impoverished population.”
Organizers added that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of this call for change.
Narada Kiondo, a bicycle courier with a number of food delivery apps, said at the press conference that besides facing a higher risk of infection as a frontline worker, couriers often don’t have access to washrooms. The job is also physically taxing, making all paid sick days important for gig workers, organizers said.
With workplaces contributing to the spread of COVID-19, there have been calls for Ontario to provide paid sick days. But the Doug Ford government has repeatedly put the onus on the federal government, despite federal employment minister Carla Qualtrough saying that a provincial program would not duplicate what Ottawa currently offers.
“We should all be demanding that we be paid better.”
At the same time, some couriers such as those with Uber Eats said they have faced a gradual but significant base-pay cut over the past year, which could go as low as $3.99 per trip. Uber previously told The Canadian Press that the change was made to “better reflect each trip’s total time, effort and distance and include travel to the restaurant.” The company said couriers could turn down trips with prices that are too low for them.
“It’s a major slap in the face for myself and all the gig workers out there who are putting their lives at risk and their health at risk delivering food and groceries while everyone else is being told to stay at home,” said Kiondo.
When asked about the idea of basic income, organizers said it would help on a day-to-day level when coupled with paid sick days. But they view it as a stopgap measure.
“[The industry] is exploitive and extractive,” said Arash Manouchehrian, a delivery courier, at the press conference. “We should all be demanding that we be paid better.”
With its relaunch today, the Gig Workers United campaign coincides with a quickly growing organizing effort around the world by gig workers. For instance, the U.K.’s Supreme Court recently ruled that Uber drivers are workers instead of self-employed contractors. And while the campaign’s current focus is on the GTA, organizers said their ambition is bigger.
“This is an industry problem and it’s a national problem,” said Sopher. “So the scope is ultimately to change the industry and to improve lives for all gig workers going forward. That is our aspiration.”
Unemployed Americans who have turned down job offers because they feared their prospective employers weren’t providing sufficient protection from the coronavirus would qualify for jobless aid under a directive the Labor Department issued Thursday.
The measure would also expand a federal unemployment benefits program, established in last spring’s economic relief package, to cover workers who have lost hours or who were laid off because of the pandemic. It would also cover school employees who lose jobs or work hours because of school closings.
The federal program, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, made the self-employed and gig workers eligible for jobless aid for the first time.
“Until now, unemployment insurance benefits during the pandemic have been too scattered and too uncertain,” said Patricia Smith, senior adviser to the labor secretary. “That begins to change today, with many more workers now eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.”
Speaking to reporters, department officials declined to estimate how many Americans would now become newly eligible for jobless benefits.
The benefits will be made retroactive, officials said. People who applied for unemployment benefits after Dec. 27 can receive retroactive payments back to Dec. 6. Those who applied before then and were turned down can receive retroactive payments dating back to when they first applied.
With unemployed Americans now receiving a $300 weekly federal payment on top of state benefits that average about $320 a week, the retroactive aid could result in significant lump sum payments. The department estimates that states won’t be able to update their jobless benefit systems to include the new criteria until late March, which could mean that the first payments would amount to about four months of benefits.
Workers whose employers have closed because of the pandemic are already eligible to receive jobless aid from the federal program. But workers who were laid off even as their company remained open, such as waiters at a restaurant that stayed open for delivery, weren’t eligible. This directive will now cover those workers, the Labor Department said.
For the unemployed who have turned down jobs out of concern over the coronavirus, applicants will have to state under penalty of perjury that their prospective employer wasn’t meeting state or local guidelines on mask-wearing or personal protective equipment, said Suzi Levine, a deputy assistant labor secretary.
TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2021 /CNW/ – The Gig Workers United campaign launched today with a bold scope and agenda for change. Delivery workers say the status quo is simply unsafe and unliveable for those whose jobs are controlled by apps. The workers have come together to call on employers and legislators to make fundamental changes.
“We have to stand up for ourselves – the streets don’t look out for us, the apps don’t look out for us, so we’re looking out for each other and collectively calling out a bad business model,” says Narada Kiondo, one of the courier spokespersons. “The way it is just can’t continue – if the gig economy is going to work for our society than it can’t be based on squeezing delivery workers and restaurants for profit, and dodging our labour standards. And we’re going to persist, and we’ll win, because our bodies and our livelihoods are on the line.”
The roots of this struggle are in experiences including the successes of Justice for Foodora Couriers, which showed over the last two years that collective action in the gig economy is possible, that victories are there to be won, and that the organizing campaign itself makes a real difference in workers’ lives. One year ago, the couriers won the legal right to join a union, and the vast majority voted yes.
Foodora, the employer that was the target of that struggle, is no longer operating in Canada, so the workers have broadened their scope in a new drive to organize delivery workers for all the apps. Working conditions, health issues and risks are common, and many couriers work for multiple apps. Now there is a common home for them to work collectively on their demands.
Jan Simpson, National President, spoke about how CUPW has welcomed the delivery workers into the organization: “The couriers have shown that traditional union organizing is possible in this space. But they’ve gone farther than that, with community-organizing tactics and collective mutual aid. They’ve formed a worker-led organization that we’re proud to support because their fresh energy and ideas are what it takes to improve working conditions and reject silicon valley’s model of exploitation.”
“Our demands are reasonable but our vision is big,” says Arash Manouchehrian, another courier. “We need liveable wages, and transparency on wages and scheduling. We need health and safety protections, we need bathroom access, warm-ups, breaks, all the things that most of our society expects as basics for all workers. We have rights, and it’s up to us to assert those rights until we get the system fixed.”
SOURCE Canadian Union of Postal Workers
For further information: please contact CUPW communications at [email protected] or 613-882-2742
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