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Gig workers may suffer because of New York’s new legislation for delivery work

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If you’ve ordered takeout during the pandemic, chances are you’ve tapped into the gig economy. As this industry has exploded, one city is stepping up to ensure the rights of delivery workers are preserved and protected.

The New York City Council recently passed a six-bill legislative package focused on providing protections to the city’s food delivery workers, according to the council. The bills — which have already been sent along to Mayor Bill De Blasio — will amend the administrative code of New York City and will target questions relating to the treatment of gig workers, including payment policies, bathroom access, and distance and route limits.

Gig workers have been fighting for their rights across the U.S., with workers for delivery platforms like Grubhub and Yelp asking for basic benefits, income protection and even guaranteed bathroom access. The first time gig workers saw any meaningful legislation being proposed to address similar issues was Assembly Bill five in California, which went live in January of 2020, and required companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees.

Read more: PRO Unlimited platform gives employee benefits to gig workers

But while the NYC bill is well-intentioned, it faces an uphill battle and could actually harm workers in the long-term, according to Matt Spokes, founder and CEO of Moves Financial, a social finance product for gig workers.

“I think legislators have been eager to find solutions, which is positive,” he says. “But I think they also fail to understand some of the nuances of the gig economy, and so often the solutions are a little bit like square hole, round peg — it doesn’t perfectly fit.”

Under the new legislations, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection will be tasked with conducting a study to determine how much delivery workers should be paid for their work. It would also prohibit food delivery services from charging their workers fees related to customer payment methods, and would require that food delivery workers be paid at least weekly.

Read more: As gig work increases, ICHRAs might be the future of healthcare benefits

However, too many restrictions and mandates on payment processes could work against delivery workers, Spokes says. If a restaurant is forced to shoulder these costs, they may raise prices and cut staff. Additionally, major delivery platforms might want to leave the New York market, which would limit the amount of services a gig worker can use and affect the growth of their future wages.

“If there is less opportunity for gig workers, that’s not a positive thing,” Spokes says. “It’s about making sure that whatever laws we do pass ensures that that flexibility is front and center.”

But despite the growing pains, legal action in favor of the gig worker does have positive impacts, especially when it comes to their comfort. One of the proposed bills demands workers get access to the restrooms in any establishment listed under the delivery service app while on the job — a fundamental right they’ve been championing for years.

Read more: Employees want to manage their own health plans — this is why you should let them

Another would allow delivery workers to specify their “maximum distance per trip” and give them the option to refuse trips “over bridges or tunnels,” according to the council. Additionally, the food delivery provider would be required to disclose the address and estimated time and distance to the food delivery worker before the worker accepts the trip.

With more and more people turning to gig work as a means to escape burnout or simply to make some side cash in the wake of the pandemic, Spokes anticipates other states with major cities, like Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois, taking the same approach. But he hopes that the bills proposed in New York — which he predicts will receive some healthy push-back — and the bill in California — which was overturned several times before passing — serve as a framework, and a cautionary tale.

“We’re really trying to figure out a long-term balance,” Spokes says. “I do hope that we see the government showing interest, I just hope that they’ll show an interest in finding a balanced outcome that favors worker flexibility first and foremost, but also allows businesses to operate in this industry profitability.”



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Payfare and Wise to bring money transfer services to the gig workforce

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Payfare, a Canada-based fintech, has partnered with money transfer company Wise to bring their capabilities to the gig economy in North America.

Beginning 2022, the North American gig and contract workers Payfare supports will be able to send money abroad instantly via Wise’s payments infrastructure, directly from Payfare digital banking apps. Payfare, who works with on-demand platforms, will be the first to leverage Wise to enable the growing gig economy to send money internationally.

With its mission of making international money transfers fast, cheap and convenient, Wise helps people and businesses move and spend money in over 56 currencies. With price transparency, including low cost pricing, and the use of real-time exchange rates, Wise aligns with Payfare’s mission to augment financial inclusion for the global gig economy.

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the gig economy of clinical trials

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Hawthorne Effect is a startup that uses a gig economy model to recruit medical professionals and conduct clinical trials whenever is most convenient.

Jodi Akin, the CEO and founder, has curated more than 1,500 medical professionals to meet patients at their homes, a nursing home or even a hotel room to collect blood work, run labs and check-in on patients. Here along with physician assistant Lisa Taxin Porter, they tell us why this model is more effective compared to traditional clinical trials. 

Why did decided found Hawthorne Effect? 
Akin: I founded Hawthorne Effect after almost 27 years of leading, designing, and operationalising clinical research globally. During that time, I started to realise that patient follow-ups were problematic to the success of clinical trials. I worried that without patients’ ability to return to the trial site — we wouldn’t be able to collect representative and accurate follow-up data.

Many trials require patients to come back anywhere from two to five times for additional data whether it be blood, echocardiograms, or other complex evaluation procedures. And, a lack of robust data could lead to delays in bringing new medical therapies to patients who needed them most. The main principle that led to the founding of Hawthorne Effect was to conduct complete, complex assessments whenever, wherever, and however the trial and patient require to deliver trusted and timely data to the investigators. 

What are the main challenges to conducting clinical trials?
Akin: Historically, clinical trials led to many breakthroughs in healthcare and medicine, however, trials weren’t always representative of diverse populations, leading to further widening of the equity gap in medicine and healthcare. Oftentimes, socio-economic and geographical barriers limit patients’ engagement in trial participation.

What are the consequences of this on drug development?

Akin: The main goal of clinical trials is to enroll a diverse and representative population so that new medical recommendations can be generalised across such groups. These barriers are a well-known problem in the industry and despite efforts and initiatives over the past three decades to increase diversity in clinical trials, not a lot of progress has been made.

Still today,  Black, Latino, Native American and Asian populations represent 0.5% to < 5% of study populations on average, which is far less than their representation of our population as a whole. Why this happens all boils down to access, and access alone is multilayered: geo-local (clinical trials don’t happen where patients live), economic (financial burden of patient follow up visits such as travel and copays), scheduling (clinics provide limited windows and hours for visits, competing with work, life, etc), and more importantly, cultural and trust barriers.

Furthermore, clinical trials must go on until clinicians collect enough robust data to submit to regulatory bodies such as the FDA for review, which is tough to accomplish as 50% of trials end with missed patient visits and/or patients dropping out completely. I also believe participants may not be aware that their involvement in trials can not only provide them with access to care but that they also may have a tremendous impact on the future of medicine, touching billions of people. 

What has the pandemic highlighted about clinical trials? What impact has it had, if any, on the way trials are conducted?
Akin: The pandemic accentuated the clinical trial continuity challenge, especially since clinical trials experienced a 70% decline in enrolment and an increased rate of missed or incomplete study visits during this time.

This further cemented the need for decentralised clinical trial solutions like Hawthorne Effect and the enablement of remote clinical visits (in-person and virtually) that put patient experience first. At the end of the day, decentralised clinical trials offer patients improved access and enable researchers to mitigate access barriers by conducting trial assessments anywhere, compared with trials that require patients to continually travel to that site. We’ve found that patients are more willing to engage in a trial long-term if they’re able to do so on their own time and turf. 

What is the gig economy model as it applies to clinical trials? 
Akin: Hawthorne Effect follows the gig economy model by bringing clinical trials to patients through its global network of Heroes, composed of medical professionals that are specifically curated, certified, and trained for clinical trial visits in-person and virtually.  Heroes are there to support patients on their own terms throughout the clinical trial lifecycle and carry out complex evaluations, such as blood work, physical and neurological assessments, and more, in the comfort of the patient’s home or any other remote locations of their choosing.

This model reduces patient burdens as they no longer have to travel long distances and schedule follow-up appointments to participate in potentially life-saving clinical trials. Even if patients have no internet access, Hawthorne Effect is able to collect data. We’ve found that by providing a decentralised solution patients are more likely to complete the trial, which results in robust data that we can collect to continue to make an impact in medicine, research, and healthcare in general. 

Porter: The gig economy model that Hawthorne Effect has adopted allows Heroes like me to supplement their income by choosing to accept clinical trial follow-up visits. We get notified by the Hawthorne Effect App that a patient visit is needed. The assignment will list the distance, compensation, and the necessary certifications needed to conduct the visit.

We select our availability out of multiple dates and times. If it’s a match with the patient’s availability, then we get a notification that we’ve been selected! The app is very user-friendly. If you are a medical provider and want to work on your day off or get more hours in, Hawthorne Effect’s gig economy model allows you to “pick up” visits as it fits into your schedule. I’ve never been a 9-5 worker and this model gives me the flexibility and options to pick up additional work whenever I want.

Can this model help to ensure more diverse groups of participants? 
Akin: Yes, Hawthorne Effect’s Heroes network is spread out and can meet patients anywhere, which removes the geographical barrier that many patients face. This changes the model of participation by addressing these barriers not only for ethnic diversity but also gender, age, and other considerations.

The healthcare industry may be resistant to change but this model is making progress to include more diverse populations in the future of medical technologies. We do not have to sacrifice the quantity or quality of data in clinical trials, just because patients aren’t in physical investigation sites.

We are creating infrastructure to better optimise the entire clinical trial ecosystem and embracing technology for better data capture. This effort will, of course,  require better collaboration between technology, health systems, industry, regulators, and the ultimate stakeholder – patients.

Porter: I believe this model does allow for a more diverse group of participants. Hawthorne Effect Heroes are able to accommodate patients located all over the country, in urban and rural settings. I’ve been offered to take visits in many interesting places, and I live in Philadelphia!

As far as what else can be done, it’s getting the word out. I bet there are providers that are eager to further their impact in the medical field in all areas of the country that don’t know that an option like Hawthorne Effect exists.

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The CEO of Instacart challenger Point Pickup wants to save the gig economy – and win over workers – by making gig work a dependable job with perks

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Point Pickup and its national network of 350,000 drivers make deliveries for Walmart, Kroger, and other major grocers.

  • Point Pickup CEO Tom Fiorita said the gig work his delivery company relies on isn’t sustainable.
  • He’s launching a digital platform to increase transparency and community for retail gig workers.
  • The platform, GigPoint, is in an invite-only beta test now and will fully launch later in the fall.

For the founder and CEO of a gig economy delivery company, Tom Fiorita has surprisingly little faith in the gig economy.

Fiorita calls his outfit, Point Pickup, the largest delivery company nobody’s heard of. Founded in 2015, its national network of 350,000 drivers make deliveries for Walmart, Kroger, and other major grocers. Its drivers and shoppers, and millions like them who work for Shipt, Instacart, DoorDash, and more, take on work one task – or gig – at a time.

Retailers have rapidly adopted the model throughout the pandemic as delivery became an essential service. And though their conditions vary, Fiorita said the group as a whole must change to survive.

That’s because the gig economy, while meeting the challenge of lightning-fast delivery, presents new problems. Workers are siloed from one another and contend with a lack of consistency or transparency – they often don’t know how much they’ll earn by day’s end when they start. They don’t have a central place to go for community or financial services tailored to their needs.

“The current way it’s being done, we believe, is not sustainable in the future,” Fiorita said.

That’s why he’s launching GigPoint, an online platform for gig workers that aims to make this kind of work a viable way of life in the long-term – and a viable business model.

The platform has launched an invitation-only beta test offering insurance purchasing, banking services, and a rewards system where workers earn points to exchange for cash bonuses, vacations, and discounts. The full version will launch for all Point Pickup drivers in the fall, and expand to the entire gig ecosystem in the future.

‘The system’s gonna break’

The pressure is on to make gig work a better gig. Workers don’t often stay loyal to any given platform, and retaining gig workers tends to be harder than recruiting them to start with.

“We see it all the time, they end up bopping around,” Fiorita said. He sees that “bopping around” as a threat to his company and the broader industry of gig delivery.

“It’s gonna break,” he said. “There’s too much fragmentation.”

The GigPoint platform aims to encourage workers to keep coming back with features the company said address workers’ top priorities, including financial services like microloans and the ability to work out recurring shifts with predictable income.

“Everything you need to be successful at gig work and be sustainable so you can continue to do it for a long period of time,” Fiorita said.

‘A wave we cannot stop’

Major gig players like Instacart, DoorDash, and Postmates could all eventually be GigPoint clients, Fiorita said. So could retailers that don’t currently use gig workers. He aims to grow the platform into a digital hub for work that’s increasingly being outsourced to gig workers, like counting inventory, seasonal cashier work, and resetting store displays.

GigPoint platform could be a homebase for any kind of retail gig, Fiorita said, with a more mindful and “caring” approach.

The company has yet to work out the finer points of how the platform will work. “We are working with gig worker focus groups now to determine the best business model,” a spokesperson told Insider. “We’re also discussing models with our retail clients – but not ready to discuss details at this time.”

Still, the overall approach could benefit the gig companies, too, since the legal challenges to gig work are unlikely to stop.

“It’s a wave that we cannot stop. I think the government knows it,” Fiorita said. “We’re enabling the ability for true flex work as an actual classification of a worker in this country.”

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