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The future is now for gig-based entrepreneurship – Orange County Register

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With Californian Kamala Harris as vice president, it’s clear the new Biden administration is taking its cues from the once-Golden State on labor policy.

In one of its first acts in office, the Biden Administration placed a regulatory freeze on a Department of Labor regulation enacted in the waning days of the prior administration relating to independent contractors.  The rule, according to labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips, “aims to make it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors.”

It’s unlikely this rule to give more workers freedom to be their own boss and set their own schedules will survive in a Biden administration that was heavily reliant upon labor unions for money and manpower to win the 2020 campaign.

Meanwhile, House Democrats recently re-introduced the controversial PRO Act in Congress, which “seeks to reduce the use of the independent contractor classification by companies such as Uber,” according to CNBC.

Both of these efforts followed the lead of California’s liberal legislative majority, which two years ago enacted the controversial Assembly Bill 5 to severely restrict the ability of Californians to work as independent contractors.  Their goal is to increase union membership and dues and force people to work in traditional, 9-to-5, union jobs that are relics of the past.

Doubling down on AB 5-type restrictions at the national level – which may be the Biden administration’s goal with the nomination of Julie Su, California’s chief AB 5 enforcer, as deputy Secretary of Labor – would be a tremendous mistake.  It would threaten innovation and hurt the ability of Americans who have lost their jobs to put food on the table during a global pandemic.

As documented in the new Pacific Research Institute study, “The Small Business Gig,” Americans are increasingly working in the gig economy.  They don’t want government – whether in Sacramento or Washington, DC – dictating how they can earn a living.

A 2018 Gallup survey found that 36 percent of U.S. workers have some sort of a gig worker arrangement.  Whether renting out an extra room to earn cash to pay the mortgage or using an app to earn a living on an alternate schedule, the gig economy is increasing opportunities for Americans to become entrepreneurs, while providing customers with lower cost services.

Many in California state government see the gig economy as exploitative and disruptive.  But data from the ADP Research Institute shows that 70 percent of gig workers are independent workers by choice.  Gig Economy Data Hub research found that more than two-thirds of gig economy workers are satisfied with their current work arrangement.

Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the economy.  New restrictions on the gig economy, like those proposed in Congress, will limit people’s freedom to become entrepreneurs while institutionalizing the old way of doing work.

Instead of adopting regulations at the federal level that 58 percent of Californians – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – rejected when they passed Proposition 22 in November, the Biden administration and Congress should take the opposite approach and enact market-based policies to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

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Economy

Why faster payments are critical to the gig economy

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More people are joining the gig economy, and a major driver of this trend — particularly for those working multiple gigs — is a need for faster access to cash to meet expenses.

The gig economy has proven flexible during the pandemic. When ride sharing cooled as fewer consumers traveled, food delivery services exploded. As Airbnb vacation rentals dropped, they were replaced by Airbnb home rentals as newly sequestered workers decided remote work could allow them to trade apartments in New York and Chicago for beach and mountain homes in Florida and Colorado.



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European Commission to consult over future of gig economy

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Photo: Shutterstock

The European Commission on Wednesday began its consultation on the rights of gig economy workers whose labour is governed by digital platforms.

The commission’s process is made up of two parts: the first, which will last six weeks, will see businesses, workers and unions consulted on “the need and direction of possible EU action to improve the working conditions in platform work”; the second, to take place later in the spring, will see concrete proposals formulated and legislation introduced if no agreement is reached in the first stage.

Among the key issues to be addressed, in addition to employment status, will be algorithmic management, collective representation and access to social protections with the EU officials aware that, according to jobs commissioner Nicolas Schmit, “there is not white and black or there is not just one-size-fits-all. There is a big variety in the world of platforms.”

First soundings suggest the commission wants to preserve platorm-based gig economy work. Margrethe Vestager, competition commissioner and chair of the Europe Fit for the Digital Age group, said: “The platform economy is here to stay– new technologies, new sources of knowledge, new forms of work will shape the world in the years ahead.”

However: “And for all of our work on the digital economy, these new opportunities must not come with different rights. Online just as offline, all people should be protected and allowed to work safely and with dignity.”

She identified the most crucial issue was “to find a balance between making the most of the opportunities of the platform economy and ensuring that the social rights of people working in it are the same as in the traditional economy” adding there was “also a matter of a fair competition and level playing field between platforms and traditional companies that have higher labour costs because they are subject to traditional labour laws.”

She said she was not looking at creating a new category of worker: “In my experience, discussions become extremely complex when you want to create a new category. We’re not in any process to create a third category. But we think that here in the consultation, it’s important that we get the feedback on exactly this.”

Uber said it welcomed the consultation: “We welcome the steps taken by the European Commission to improve the conditions of platform work,” said a spokesperson. “Any legislative initiative should be grounded in what platform workers value most – flexibility and control over their work, transparent and fair earnings, access to benefits and protections, and meaningful representation.”

Last week’s judgment in the UK Supreme Court, which ruled Uber drivers were workers because, said the judge, the relationship between it and its drivers was one of “subordination and dependency”, could lead to changes in the UK that will inform the commission’s discussion.

However, centre and left-wing political groupings in Europe are campaigning on the basis that platform workers should be employees. Alongside trade unions such as the European Transport Workers’ Federation – a participant in the consultation – they believe the onus should be on the platforms to prove that their “contractors” aren’t employees, rather than the other way round.

“To change the game of the gig economy, in principle all platform workers must be considered as employees,” said Dutch MEP Agnes Jongerius, a European parliament spokesperson for the employment and social affairs committee. Another member of the committee, French MEP Sylvie Brunet, published a draft report on the rights of platform workers this week, which called on the EU to draw up legislation to “counter bogus self-employment”.

Groups representing companies’ interests such as BusinessEurope do not wish to see an EU-wide definition of employee, which they say should be defined on a national level. Unless an agreement is reached at stage one of the European Commission’s consultation, it is likely that digital platform workers on the Continent will be subject to a patchwork of national case law for at least a year to come, because it is thought coming up with legislation will be a long drawn-out process.

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How the Gig Economy Helps American Workers, Explained

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Sure, you know that being an Uber driver is great for someone who wants to make their own hours. But did you know that many Americans are choosing freelance work because they need flexibility because of family or other responsibilities?

Did you know that small businesses rely on independent contractors? Or that Americans who were once discouraged because they couldn’t make a job work with their lifestyle are now able to work?

But unfortunately, the gig economy is under attack by leftists. In California, a new law has made many such flexible jobs illegal.

In this “Policy Lab” episode, posted above, we have the facts on the gig economy. Check it out—and if you’re interested in watching more “Policy Lab” episodes, you can view them here.



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