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Uber pays $3.4M for mistakes after passage of Seattle’s gig worker leave law

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(Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Uber has agreed to pay more than $3.4 million to 15,000 drivers after making mistakes related to Seattle’s pioneering paid sick leave law covering gig workers.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seattle City Council last year temporarily extended sick and safe leave protections to gig workers, who previously didn’t qualify because many companies treat them as independent contractors.

The law allows the workers to accrue and take paid days off — based on their average daily compensation, including tips — to care for themselves or family members who get sick. The idea was to reduce the financial pressure on them to keep working, possibly spreading the virus, at a time when people were becoming more reliant on gig workers to perform tasks like grocery delivery.

It also allows them them to take paid time off for other reasons, such as to seek help in domestic violence cases or to care for children whose schools were closed because of the pandemic.

Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards began investigating after drivers complained that they were not receiving the benefits from Uber as required.

The office said in a news release Thursday that Uber conducted several audits after the investigation began. The company discovered that technical glitches prevented some drivers from being able to access their paid-time-off accounts on the app; some had time-off requests inadvertently canceled; some had incorrect time-off balances in their accounts; and some had been required to wait until the day after their time-off request to take it.

The company voluntarily fixed those issues, the office said.

The agreement includes nearly $1.3 million in back pay, interest, damages and civil penalties for 2,329 workers, as well as nearly $2.2 million in advance payment of unused paid time off to 15,084 workers.

The company said it had already set aside the latter amount for drivers who accrued sick time. Under the settlement, it is simply paying one of those days to each eligible driver now rather than later.

Uber did not admit liability in the settlement agreement.

“Having access to paid sick days during this pandemic means we can keep our customers and our families safe and healthy,” one of the drivers, Jamel Jara, said in the news release.

Harry Hartfield, Uber’s public affairs manager, said in the news release that the company worked over a few weeks to build a new payment system to comply with the new law.

“While the vast majority of workers claimed their Paid Sick and Safe Time without an issue, we’re grateful that the Office of Labor Standards worked in partnership with us as we improved our systems to ensure accurate and prompt payments,” Hartfield said.

The paid sick leave protections for gig workers expire 180 days after the end of the civil emergency declared by public officials in response to the pandemic.

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Uber, Lyft drivers strike to win labor rights for US gig workers, Auto News, ET Auto

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Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.
Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

Los Angeles: Drivers for Uber and Lyft have staged strikes in cities across the United States, urging Congress to grant gig workers the right to band together and push for better wages and working conditions.

Wednesday’s protests – from California to Maryland – reveal an increasingly fractious dispute over how gig workers should be regarded by law and what rights they deserve at work.

The question is under debate in Congress as lawmakers wrangle over whether the self-employed can bargain collectively as part of a wider Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).

“We want a seat at the table,” said driver Alvaro Bolainez, part of a 50-strong protest at Los Angeles airport.

Bolainez urged his fellow drivers to turn off their apps and lay down their keys, saying his pay was consistently and unilaterally cut by the rich ride-sharing companies he serves.

“It’s like a rollercoaster – one week I can make $1,000, the next I’ll make $400 working the same number of hours,” he said.

A spokesperson for Lyft said in an emailed statement that the company is “fighting to expand benefits and protections for drivers in a way that allows them to keep their independence. This is the type of forward-looking approach our drivers want.”

Uber referred questions to the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition, a pro-industry group, which said most driver earnings were on the rise in California.

It also sent remarks from drivers who oppose the strike.

“I treat it like it’s a business and I drive smart,” said 65-year-old Jim Pyatt, a part-time driver in California. “I never make less than $35 an hour and I love the flexibility.”

But at the L.A. rally, drivers told a very different story – recalling days when earnings lagged the minimum wage, of idling roadside for hours or paying out of pocket for vehicle repairs.

Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

A Reuters calculation found the 2020 measure had saved Uber and Lyft $392 million each in costs such as payroll taxes and worker compensation.

“It created a second-class status for all app-based workers in California,” said Nicole Moore, a rally organizer who urged the Senate to pass the PRO act when it votes on a multi-trillion dollar spending package under negotiation.

The law would, among other measures, reclassify many independent contractors as employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, though not for wage laws and benefits.

Veena Dubal, an employment law professor and critic of gig company practice, said with debate fomenting over worker rights, the West Coast was a microcosm of a far bigger problem.

“Although the action is centered in California, it’s really workers over the country participating because they know California is the epicenter of the business model, but the companies are trying to export it elsewhere,” she said.

In recent months, gig firms have courted unions and state officials in an effort to cement their workers’ status as independent contractors in all U.S. states so as to cut costs.

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Under the proposal outlined in a regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the penalty would be reduced to $150,000, but Uber would pay $9 million to support a state victims’ fund and help create industry-wide safety and reporting standards.



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Gig workers rally in Fresno in support of Right to Organize Act

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FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Rallies were held across California earlier this week in support of the Right to Organize Act that is currently stalled in the State Legislature.

One of the demonstrations was held in downtown Fresno at city hall Wednesday afternoon.

A nationwide strike is underway among rideshare, and delivery drivers, including DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Organizers said they’re pushing for the right to organize and form a union to gain more benefits.

Proposition 22 was passed in November of last year, which made rideshare drivers and other gig-workers independent contractors.

However, rally participants said that’s not exactly how it works.

“Independent contractors don’t get treated like second-class workers. They’re not independent contractors if they don’t have the right to negotiate the terms of their contract,” said volunteer organizer Hashid Kasama.

A spokesperson for the Protect App-based Drivers and Services Coalition said that since Prop 22 passed Uber Driver’s earnings are up in California’s two largest markets.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.



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Micromax Next Product, In 2B Will Be Aimed at Gig Workers

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Micromax IN 2B

It seems that Micromax is gearing up to launch a new handset in India, as is evident by a teaser released by the company on Twitter, that reveals the launch date of July 30 for the same.

Going by the teaser released by Micromax, the upcoming handset will offer smooth performance, long battery life with the focus group being Gig workers. The teaser does not reveal the name of the handset, but we can expect it to be released as the Micromax IN 2B in India, as the device was spotted on Geekbench in June.

What do We Know About the Micromax In 2B,2C?

At that time, the benchmark listing had revealed the main specifications of the device ahead of the launch. This device will be succeeding the Micromax In 1B smartphone.

According to a report by The Mobile Indian earlier this week, Micromax seems to be planning to launch the Micromax In 2B in India by the end of July.

Now, the teaser of the arrival of the new handset on July 30th has further provided us with solidified proof of a new offering from the company. As mentioned earlier, the Micromax 1N 2B visited Geekbench last month. Benchmark details wise, the Micromax In 2B will come with a Unisoc T610 octa-core SoC. The device is also expected to opt for 4GB of RAM. Software-wise it should run Android 11 out of the box.

The Geekbench test revealed that the Micromax In 2B managed to score 350 points in the single-core test and 1204 points in the multicore test. To recall, the Micromax 1N 1B was launched by Micromax earlier in 2020 in November. The device opted for a 6.52-inch IPS LCD display with HD+ resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio.

Performance-wise the handset was powered by the octa-core Helio G35 SoC. Optics wise the 1N 1B used a dual-camera setup with a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary camera. The phone used a massive 5000mAh battery with 10W charging.

The report also mentions that the company could release the Micromax In 2C in India next month, with a Geekbench listing confirming the same. The listing revealed that the In 2C could ship with an Unisoc T610 processor with 4GB of RAM. The phone could run Android 11 out of the box.



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