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Department of Labor Withdraws Gig Economy Opinion Letter that Supported Independent Contractor Classification | Benesch



On February 19, 2021, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division withdrew its opinion letter that indicated gig economy workers who offer services in a virtual marketplace are independent contractors.  The Wage and Hour Division had previously published this opinion letter, FLSA2019-6, on April 29, 2019.  This recent withdrawal is another signal that the Department of Labor under the Biden administration is closely scrutinizing the classification of workers as independent contractors.

The Wage and Hour Division previously published the now-withdrawn opinion letter in response to a request from a “virtual marketplace company” that connects service providers with individuals seeking those services. The withdrawn opinion letter opined that the workers offering services in the virtual marketplace platform “are independent contractors, not employees of [the virtual marketplace platform]” based on the Department of Labor’s long-standing six-factor “economic realities” test to determine the worker’s economic dependence on the entity at issue. The six factors are:

1. The nature and degree of the potential employer’s control.
2. The permanency of the worker’s relationship with the potential employer.
3. The amount of the worker’s investment in facilities, equipment or helpers.
4. The amount of skill, initiative, judgment or foresight required for the worker’s services.
5. The worker’s opportunities for profit or loss.
6. The extent of integration of the worker’s services into the potential employer’s business

The withdrawal of FLSA2019-6 is an “official ruling” of the Wage and Hour Division for purposes of the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. § 259. Parties may no longer rely on opinion letter FLSA2019-6 as a statement of agency policy as of February 19, 2021.  Businesses should note that opinion letters are not legally binding, but parties can present opinion letters in court as persuasive guidance to boost claims or defenses in cases involving similar issues.  For the time being, there is no definitive, revised stance from the Wage and Hour Division until it publishes a new opinion letter on the question of classification of gig economy independent contractors.

The withdrawal of this opinion letter follows the Department of Labor’s proposed delay of the effective date of the Trump-era final rule entitled “Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” The Department of Labor has proposed to delay the effective date of the final rule in order to provide additional time for review and consideration of the rule.  In its withdrawal notice posted to opinion letter FLSA2019-6, the Wage and Hour Division noted as follows: “This letter addressed the same issue under consideration by the Department—independent contractor status under the FLSA. Thus, consistent with its proposed delay of the final rule, WHD is withdrawing this opinion letter.”

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You fought Facebook, why not Uber? Albanese wants Morrison to fight for gig economy workers | The Canberra Times




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Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has challenged the Morrison government to take up the fight to gig-economy companies in same way it has technology giants Google and Facebook. Mr Albanese continued his campaign for industrial relations reform on Thursday, inviting rideshare and food delivery drivers to Parliament House to highlight poor working conditions in the sector. Labor plans to boost workers’ rights if it wins the next federal election, a move which could set up a brawl with major players in the sector. Asked if he was prepared to fight big global companies during an election campaign, Mr Albanese drew parallels with laws passed this week to ensure tech giants Google and Facebook paid news organisations for content. He argued that just as the Morrison government was using the media bargaining code to help protect the jobs of journalists, it should legislate to support gig-economy workers. Mr Albanese said in both cases new laws were needed to deal with issues which had emerged in the past decade. “The government, opposition and this parliament have been prepared to take tough decisions. We have been prepared to stand ground, to legislate for a code, and to do that in order to defend Australia’s national interests and defend the jobs of journalists,” he told reporters. READ MORE: “Labor stood with the government on those issues. It was the right thing to do. “[Gig-economy workers] James, Ashley and Malcolm deserve as much respect and dignity as the [journalists] at this press conference. They deserve it. “Josh Frydenberg got onto Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook. Why isn’t the government prepared to negotiate on behalf of these people?” Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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




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.

Acts including Charli XCX, Yungblud, rapper Jack Harlow, rockers Neck Deep and Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid were recently added to the bill.

Latitude music festival lineup

Liam Gallagher is due to headline (Aaron Chown/PA)

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.

99% of Glastonbury tents taken home

Glastonbury was cancelled for a second time (Aaron Chown/PA)

“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




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.

Mumbai-based start-up Lido learning is looking at close to 1,000 employees in the next one month. The recruitment is diverse, spanning across roles like tutors, customer support personnel, sales and marketing executives, in addition to building strength for already existing teams. The numbers represent hiring around 500 tutors, and over 400 sales and customer support executives.

“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.

The Covid-19 outbreak impacted several as business contracted and many had to take harsh decisions of giving pink slips. For instance, Food tech platform Swiggy which had handed pink slips to over 1,400 employees after the pandemic broke out last year, has gone back to 2019 level hiring plans for the March quarter with an increased focus on technology and product functions.

“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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