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California’s Prop. 22 could affect the gig economy nationwide

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California’s Proposition 22 is an initiative sponsored by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other gig work platforms. It would exempt app-based ride-hailing companies and food delivery companies from a new state law that requires them to classify drivers as employees instead of independent contractors.

Gig companies have poured nearly $200 million into the Yes on Proposition 22 campaign, making it the most expensive ballot initiative in state history. They’ve threatened to leave California or dramatically raise prices if it doesn’t pass, and a loss could embolden other states to insist that app companies hire their drivers.

I spoke with Sam Harnett, a reporter for KQED in San Francisco. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

A headshot of Sam Harnett, a reporter for KQED in San Francisco.
Sam Harnett (Photo courtesy of Gundi Vigfusson)

Sam Harnett: Gig companies are saying, “If this doesn’t pass, we’re going to have to potentially suspend service in California.” And if it passes, Uber, Lyft and the rest of the gig companies will be able to continue operating the way that they were operating before. Their workers would be contractors, [which] means they wouldn’t have basic employee protections like unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation. And the way this proposition is written, that will be pretty much locked in. There’s this seven-eighths provision, which means it would take seven-eighths of the Senate and Assembly in California to make any changes to this proposition. And local jurisdictions, cities and counties couldn’t make any changes to give gig workers more benefits.

Molly Wood: Do these same restrictions, this un-overturnability, does that apply even if the companies are forced to classify their workers as employees?

Harnett: Well, if Proposition 22 doesn’t pass, workers will become employees, but these gig companies still have billions of dollars, and they’re going to keep fighting this tooth and claw. I mean, they see this as an existential threat to their business model. So on the one side, if Prop 22 passes, the gig model looks pretty solid. I mean, maybe something federally could lead to a change. Maybe there could be a lawsuit over something procedurally in the proposition, like maybe that seven-eighths provision I mentioned. But it’s going to be there. On the flip side, if Proposition 22 doesn’t pass, you can expect another salvo from the gig companies pretty quickly.

Wood: This is a California ballot proposition, but I wonder what implications could it have if it doesn’t pass for the gig economy nationally?

Harnett: Oh, huge. I think everybody, nationally and internationally, is looking at this case. Over the last couple years, you’ve seen the California Supreme Court, the California legislature and now the attorney general go after these companies and tell them, “Your workers are actually employees, and they need basic protections.” And if the gig companies are successful in using the ballot box to defy the three branches of government and maintain their business model, I think a lot of other states, and a lot of other countries, are going to see that as, “Well, the gig companies, they won.”

Wood: And if they don’t win, would that embolden maybe states and localities who have wanted to do something about this model to pass their own laws?

Harnett: Absolutely. In Massachusetts, they’re moving, pushing back on gig companies in a similar way. And in other states, they’re now trying to follow California’s path. And I think a victory for labor if Prop. 22 doesn’t pass, I think will ripple. And again, the companies would have to then classify workers as employees, and the rubber is going to hit the road, and we’re going to see how that all plays out.

Wood: These companies, of course, have poured a ton of money into this campaign, and they’re using their platform for that campaigning. Can you talk about some of the tactics that they’re using when you’re actually using apps like Postmates and Uber and Lyft these days?

Harnett: They got $185 million behind this, but they also have apps in hundreds of thousands or millions of voters’ pockets. So if you’ve taken Uber or Lyft, you’ve probably gotten a pop-up that has had messaging about Proposition 22. And if you work for these apps, you’re also getting pop-ups and material inside the apps urging you to vote yes on Prop 22. DoorDash has sent several million pro-Prop. 22 delivery bags for restaurants, which then the DoorDash workers have to carry the food to customers in those bags. And then Uber has a pop-up for riders that tells riders that their drivers support Prop. 22 and to talk to drivers about it. So these companies are leveraging their apps and they’re leveraging their workers in a way that has never been seen before in an election fight.

Wood: In your reporting, what are you hearing from drivers? Do you have a sense of how they’re feeling about all this?

Harnett: I’ve been covering this for five or six years, and drivers actually have always told me pretty much the same thing, which is they want to be their own boss, they want to be independent, they want to be flexible, but they also want basic protections, or at least enough money to get those basic protections. So a lot of drivers, they get these surveys that ask them if they want to be contractors, and it’s kind of confusing, because they do want to be contractors, but it’s kind of an aspirational desire to be contractors. They want to be contractors who actually make enough money to pay for health insurance, who actually make enough money to work when they want to work. And right now, what drivers are saying is that the rates haven’t been good in years, but they’ve been declining since the beginning. They’re frustrated. So I’d say workers want autonomy, independence and flexibility, but they want some basic protections.

Rideshare drivers demonstrate against rideshare companies Uber and Lyft during a car caravan protest on August 6, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Rideshare drivers demonstrate against rideshare companies Uber and Lyft during a car caravan protest on Aug. 6 in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Related links: More insight from Molly Wood

The Guardian calls Proposition 22 an initiative with “the fate of an industry” riding on it. Even more than that, it’s an attempt to figure out a new framework for labor and hiring in an economy where apps like this do employ so many workers. And in some ways, like Sam Harnett said, a lot of drivers, analysts and labor experts think there should be a third way, something in between very regimented 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. employment that at least comes with benefits, and total freedom and flexibility — to die with no health insurance or miss rent if you get sick.

The delivery and ride-hail companies are positioning Proposition 22 as sort of a third way since the drivers would stay independent contractors but get some small benefits, like accident insurance and stipends to use for health insurance that go up the more hours someone drives. And, of course, it’s hard to forget that this proposition is a total end-run around a state law that the companies in question just decided to ignore. Nevertheless, opinions on Proposition 22 are fairly evenly split, even though many Californians are already voting.

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Economy

Gig economy to boost employment of Indian women in formal sector post COVID: Study – The New Indian Express

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Labour pledge to give gig economy workers right to sick pay

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Labour has pledged to give gig economy workers the right to sick pay in its new employment rights charter.

The party said its “new deal for working people”, launched on Monday, would mean an additional 6.1 million workers were eligible for statutory sick pay, many of whom are workers in the gig economy and are currently classed as self-employed, as well as the “genuinely” self-employed.

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s shadow employment rights and protections secretary, said: “Millions of workers are in insecure employment with low pay and few rights and protections, particularly key workers whose efforts got the country through the pandemic.

“A lack of basic rights and protections forces working people into poverty and insecurity. This is terrible for working people, damaging for the economy, and as we have seen throughout the pandemic, devastating for public health.

“We need a new deal for working people. Labour would ensure that all work balances the flexibility workers want with the security they deserve.”

Under Labour’s plans, three separate legal statuses of employment, each of which have different rights under the law, would be rolled into one status of “worker” and given the same rights.

The party cited ONS figures, which suggest 4.2 million self-employed workers, including gig economy workers, do not currently qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, alongside 1.9 million people who are currently employed but cannot claim it.

Deliveroo strike
In July, the Court of Appeal ruled that Deliveroo riders are not workers and therefore not entitled to collective bargaining rights (Stefan Rousseau/AP)

Under Labour’s plans these 6.1 million people would be offered rights including sick pay, National Minimum Wage entitlement, holiday pay, paid parental leave, and protection against unfair dismissal.

Labour would also aim to remove “qualifying” probationary periods for workers starting new jobs so these rights would be available from the first day of a job.

The Opposition party’s plans follow a series of court cases on the gig economy, involving disputes about whether the claimant was a worker entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay, or self-employed and not entitled to these rights.

In July, the Court of Appeal ruled that Deliveroo riders are not workers and therefore not entitled to collective bargaining rights.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner launched the party’s workers rights charter on Monday morning at a co-working hub in central London, describing it as “the minimum” workers could expect after working through the pandemic.



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Gig economy to boost employment of Indian women in formal sector: Study

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Alternative work arrangements in the have the potential to absorb more women and increase their participation in the workforce with some amount of reskilling, according to a latest study.


is a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.





A study on “The Impact of COVID 19 and Industry 4.0 on Future of Work for Women, An Insight from Formal Sector in India” underscores that alternative work arrangements in the have the potential to absorb more women and increase their participation in the workforce.


“A boost in use of digital technology and increased acceptance of virtual working for sales and distribution jobs, could open opportunities for women to enter fields where interactions are managed through apps and phone calls,” the study states.


“The study indeed gives a hope for a better future with more opportunities for women. However, concerted efforts are needed to understand how new technologies are impacting specific industries and to address challenges facing women in entering or remaining in the workplace,” stated Nadia Rasheed, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in India, at the formal launch event of the study.


The survey also reflects that some key sectors that are likely to see an increase in women’s are health and pharmaceuticals (by 59 per cent), electrical and electronics (by 44 per cent) and fast-moving consumer goods (perishable goods) industry (by 41 per cent).


At the same time, women’s in the finance and accounting divisions may moderately change due to the adoption of new technology.


Around 73 per cent of the respondent firms agree that reskilling, specifically in the formal sector — is likely to play a crucial part in shaping the work of tomorrow. About 83 per cent of those who agreed to the skilling proposition also indicate that reskilling will be crucial to absorb more women in the world of work in India, the study states.


To safeguard the interest of both employers and employees, some labour laws and regulations are required in the changing world of work, it states.


Also, documenting best practices across globe on how different industries are using new technologies and at the same time creating job opportunities for women would help create supportive policies.


The survey findings state that work from home (WFH) or remote working will be the ‘new normal’ with advanced technologies such as digital information, artificial intelligence, robotisation and machine learning.


The study associates low level of technological skills with increasing levels of adverse impact, with the caveat that the time or pace of old jobs to be fully replaced by automation is uncertain, which may create unemployment for some time in India.


Interestingly, the study also revealed that in high-skill and low-skill jobs, the impact of technology is gender neutral. It is the medium-skill jobs that have gender differentials because they require a blend of cognitive work and manual routine work, and gender can play a role here.


In high-skill jobs, finding the right skill to do the job is the most important criteria, and the candidate whether it is a man or woman hardly matters, it states.


In low-skill jobs in India, there is wage parity, and thus employers may have equal ratio of employees which reflect no gender bias, the study states.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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