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Gig Economy Workers – New Health And Safety Guidance For Employers – Employment and HR

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European Union:

Gig Economy Workers – New Health And Safety Guidance For Employers


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In the landmark case The Independent Workers’ Union of
Great Britain, R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions & Ors
, the Court found firmly in
favour of a union representing gig economy workers.

The decision will give much welcomed health and safety
protection to workers within the “gig economy.” It means
workers are entitled to the same protection as employees against
suffering detriment if they take steps to protect themselves by
refusing to work when faced with the serious and imminent danger of
being exposed to COVID-19. Further, they will be entitled to be
provided with any necessary Personal Protective Equipment
(PPE).

We explore the case in detail below, looking at these
developments and what they could mean for employers moving
forward.

Background and summary of the case

Employment protection legislation seeks to distinguish between
dependent and independent labour. At one end of the employment
status spectrum are ’employees’ who are afforded the
greatest level of protection. At the other end of the spectrum are
the self-employed who are not entitled to any employment protection
rights. Somewhere in the middle are ‘workers’ who are
entitled to some valuable employment rights including National
Minimum Wage, holiday pay, discrimination and whistleblowing
protection.

While all employees are also workers, not all workers are
employees under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA). Under section
230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to establish that an
individual is a ‘worker’: (1) the individual must be
working under a contract in which they agree to personally provide
work; and (2) the ’employer’ must not be a client or
customer of any profession or business undertaking carried on by
the individual. Individuals who fall within this definition are
often referred to as “limb (b) workers”.

Many “gig economy” workers are classed as limb (b)
workers, as opposed to employees. Examples of limb (b) workers
include: some courier drivers and cyclists.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB),
which represents around 5,000 workers, sought a judicial review
arguing that the UK government had failed to transpose into UK law
important EU health and safety provisions. They highlighted that
many of these limb (b) workers have worked throughout the COVID-19
pandemic, exposing themselves to a higher risk of catching the
virus. The IWGB asserted there is a particular need for the kind of
health and safety measures that the EU health and safety provisions
require.

Many of these workers had raised concerns about not being given
PPE by their employers. They said that the lack of protection in UK
law meant that they ran the risk of being suspended or terminated
if they took steps to protect themselves by stopping work.

The Court found in favour of the IWGB and concluded that the UK
has failed to grant workers in the gig economy the rights they are
entitled to under European directives on safety and health at work.
The judgment means that workers in the gig economy are entitled to
the same health and safety rights as employees, including being
provided with PPE by the business they are working for and having
the right to stop work in response to serious and imminent danger.
The Government must now take steps to ensure workers have the same
protection as employees.

What does this mean for employers?

Under UK health and safety law, employers have a duty to ensure
– so far as reasonably practicable – that their employees and other
people who might be affected by their business, are not exposed to
risk to their health, safety or wellbeing from their activities.
Breach is a criminal offence by the employer. If found guilty, the
employer will face a fine. Employers cannot insure for these fines
and it is also not legally possible to contract out of the
duty.

From an employment law perspective, this ground-breaking
decision means that, if they haven’t been doing so already,
employers will need to ensure these gig economy workers have the
right to refuse unsafe work and are given PPE as necessary.

Although we are yet to receive official guidance from the
government on amending the domestic legislation, it is important to
prepare for this change and to acknowledge that as things currently
stand, this case and any amended legislation will continue to apply
after the UK has left the EU.

What steps need to be taken?

Employers should consider the following:

  • Altering workers’ contracts to
    make their rights clear;

  • Ensuring that company policy and
    procedure on the treatment of workers is compliant;

  • Updating risk assessments and
    procedures accordingly to ensure that necessary control measures
    are applied to workers, as well as employees, and that workers are
    provided with PPE as necessary; and

  • Briefing line managers who are
    responsible for affected workers, so as to ensure that they are
    up-to-date on the changes and that they treat workers
    accordingly.

Next steps in the absence of government guidance

The UK Government will be expected to amend the relevant
domestic legislation to ensure that such workers have the same
protections as employees in this respect. Until they do so, an
affected worker may bring a claim for damages against a member
state for any loss suffered by them as a result of the
government’s failure to implement or breach EU law (these are
known as Francovich claims).

The ability to make Francovich claims will be lost after the end
of the transition period (31 December 2020), as they are excluded
from the scope of retained EU Law. There are a few exemptions to
this, most notably parties should be aware that there is a two-year
window after exit day for bringing a Francovich claim in respect of
any violation of EU law occurring before the end of the transition
period.

“Read the original article on GowlingWLG.com“.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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Boost for gig economy as Reading and Leeds festivals set to go ahead

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Reading and Leeds music festivals will go ahead this summer following the Government’s announcement of a road map out of lockdown, organisers have said.

The sister events – known for their mix of rap, rock and pop – are due to take place between August 27 and 29 after both were cancelled in 2020 due to the onset of the pandemic.

According to plans announced on Monday, the Government hopes to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact by June 21 at the earliest.

This would mean larger events can go ahead and nightclubs can finally reopen.

Confirming their 2021 events would take place, the official Reading and Leeds Twitter account posted: “Following the Government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to get back to the fields this summer. LET’S GO.”

Reading will return to the Richfield Avenue venue while Leeds will once again take place in Bramham Park.

Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Disclosure and Queens Of The Stone Age are all scheduled to headline across the weekend.

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The UK festival circuit has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic with its 2020 season effectively wiped out.

In January Glastonbury was cancelled for a second successive year after organisers said they had tried to “move heaven and earth”.

Greg Parmley, chief executive of Live, a trade body for the live music industry, welcomed the news but said the festival season was still in danger.

He said: “Today’s confirmation that Reading and Leeds music festivals will be taking place in August is a great moment that will give people hope of better times to come.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday has given some organisers confidence but there is still a large amount of uncertainty ahead of us. With the Government only committing to provide a week’s notice on the lifting of all restrictions, this will mean for many it will just be too late and we will see further cancellations.

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“This is why, despite the good news today, the Government must commit to further sector-specific support for our industry in the budget as we start our long road to recovery.”

In response to the threat posed by the pandemic, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched an inquiry into the future of festivals.

Last month the committee wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask him to extend Government-backed insurance schemes to music and performing arts festivals.

Festivals added £1.76 billion in gross value to the economy in 2019, with almost one in three Brits watching Glastonbury on TV.

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Edtech, logistics and gig-economy to drive jobs as startups step up hiring

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After a year of job uncertainties and salary reductions, the startup ecosystem is stepping up its plans with most large gear up their growth plans. According to a survey by Scalar, venture capital-funded start-ups, especially in edtech, and gig-economy will be key drivers of the job market in 2021.

Live learning platform Vedantu plans to hire 1,500 employees across all levels with domain expertise in the field of technology, product, finance, strategy & HR this year. “Due to the tremendous potential of online learning in current times, it is our duty to ensure that all students and teachers get a perfect experience of our product. Hence, we are ramping up our across all domains from India’s premium B-schools and engineering institutes,” said Vamsi Krishna, CEO & co-founder, Vedantu.


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“There has been a big surge in startup hirings in the past two to three months and it is not only limited to fintech or All segments including consumer tech, SaaS, gaming and media tech are now picking up,” said Anshul Lodha, regional director at global recruitment consultancy Michael Page.

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“Attracting the right talent in engineering, product, data science & ML is our primary focus while also looking at strengthening our business category and supply chain teams for our new initiatives. This would be a mix of both entry-level roles (15-20 per cent) and lateral hires,” said Girish Menon, Head of HR at Swiggy.

The need to hire aggressively also comes at the back of fund raise that the startup ecosystem has seen as they see business demand rising. Walmart backed PhonePe managed to reach the milestone of 1 billion monthly payment transactions.

PhonePe has about 700 positions to close in 2021. “Despite the lockdown, our headcount grew by 700 people across roles since the end of February 2020 taking our employee strength to 2,240,” said a PhonePe spokesperson.

The Tiger Global-backed startup is also expanding its offline merchant network to 25 million (currently at 16 million) by the end of 2021 across rural and semi-urban areas.

This expansion will be creating 10,000 jobs across 5,500 talukas wherein people will be hired from the locally available talent pool to service the merchants.

Fintech unicorn Razorpay will be hiring 650 employees across its engineering, products, customer experience, sales and marketing teams in the next 10 months, to meet the growing payment and banking needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers. The Bengaluru-based startup had onboarded 550 employees in 2020.

According to Teamlease, freshers hiring is expected to be higher this year given that the 2020 pass-out intake just started around November-December 2020 and the activity has increased in Q1 of 2021. “Freshers hiring is expected to more than double compared to last year. Lateral is also in the positive trajectory, some of the roles that laterals are preferred are full stack developer, content writers (mostly copy writers) whereas for roles testing, sales, teachers and digital marketing are open to take freshers,” said Kaushik Banerjee, Vice President and Business Head of Teamlease & Freshersworld.

IPO-bound Zomato, which had laid off 13 per cent of its 4,000 workforce last year on account of Covid-19 related impact, is planning to hire 400 employees this year, according to reports.

Online grocery platform Grofers, another startup which is drawing up IPO plans, has an ongoing talent reinforcement primarily in technology, supply chain and demand functions. “Our focus continues to build high performing teams across the organization with a blend of fresh perspective and diverse experience,” said Ankush Arora, Head HR, Grofers.

Startup job openings

. PhonePe has 700 positions to close in 2021

. Razorpay to fill 650 positions

. Vedantu to hire 1,500 employees across all levels

. Swiggy to focus on technology and product functions

. Grofers looking at technology, supply chain roles

. Zomato planning to onboard 400 employees



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The impact of the gig economy on e-commerce and its sustainability

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The growth of the gig economy, where short-term contracts or freelance work prevail as opposed to permanent jobs, has enabled people to increase their income and run multiple ‘side-hustles.’

In the gig economy, participants enjoy the flexibility of choosing what to do and when to work, and the convenience of being matched up with potential clients through mobile apps.

In Kenya, ride-hailing apps and online professional workers comprise the lion’s share of the gig economy both in value and number of workers.

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The growth of gig economy is fueled in part by mobile, internet and smartphone penetration and the proliferation of mobile money in Kenya. Mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa have become the second most-used payment channel in Kenya after cash.

Ecommerce has skyrocketed in Kenya with the number of customers and businesses running their transactions online rising. 

Glovo is an on-demand technology platform that connects customers with riders to get products delivered through a mobile app.

Priscilla Muhiu (pictured above), Glovo’s general manager for Kenya shares on the gig economy, e-commerce and COVID-19.

The impact of the gig economy on e-commerce and its sustainability – The gig economy has given Kenyans the freedom to work and live more efficiently and effectively. It has also opened up an innovative new revenue stream for the continent — allowing millions to take up flexible work on their own terms.

Gig work is becoming increasingly important as a potential pathway to socio-economic development and employment creation, given Africa’s unique status as the continent with the youngest population in the world amongst the highest youth unemployment rate.

Impact of Covid-19 to the business and how the company survived- As part of the protocols put in place by the government to stem the tide of the pandemic, consumers created and reinforced new online buying behaviors and habits.

Consumers were more motivated than ever to shop online and have deliveries made at their doorstep and the ripple effect of this was a 30 per cent increase in grocery orders in Kenya as reported by Glovo in 2020.

The evolution of online delivery space and the overall outlook of the on-demand delivery market- As the online retail space continues to expand, consumers are choosing click retail over traditional brick and mortar stores.

Online retail presents a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the Kenyan economy including job creation for riders and a business lifeline for restaurant owners.

This shift in consumer behavior, coupled with the advent of Covid-19 and increase in internet penetration, has seen the rapid growth of on-demand delivery start-ups.

What strategy plans does Glovo have for Kenya in 2021? – We are looking at offering more competitive delivery fees. We will continue to expand into new towns in Kenya and getting into various partnerships that will benefit the consumers.

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