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New York lawmakers just introduced the “Dependent Worker Act” into the Assembly and Senate this past week, which proposes to provide workers in the gig economy with certain rights that previously were only available to “employees.” However, just as quickly as the bill was introduced, the bill’s sponsor delayed consideration of the bill until the next legislative session amid criticism that the bill was rushed, poorly drafted, and did not go far enough in protecting gig economy workers.

The gig economy has become so prevalent in today’s society that it is not likely many people will still wonder “what IS the gig economy?” However, if someone does still have that question, they are in luck. Merriam-Webster recently announced that it has officially added “gig economy” to its dictionary. The phrase is now formerly defined as “economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sector.”

Ever since Uber became part of our everyday world, the mandatory arbitration agreement it requires its independent contractor drivers to sign has been under constant scrutiny—and attack. A recent decision, however, fell in the gig economy company’s favor, presenting a good lesson for all gig economy companies.

For businesses and workers alike, the New Year means new beginnings and new opportunities. To that end, participation in the rapidly developing gig economy is no exception. In fact, freelancers, side hustlers, and independent workers making up the gig economy now total nearly 60 million people in the U.S. alone. The gig economy workforce is currently growing three times faster than the traditional U.S. workforce, and businesses should not expect this trend to slow down anytime soon. By 2027, half of U.S. workers are expected to be freelancers. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court just agreed to weigh in on a question that could prove critical to the growth—or stagnation—of the gig work labor pool: does performing gig work in between full-time jobs disqualify a worker from receiving unemployment benefits? By accepting the case of Lowman v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review for review yesterday, the state’s high court has decided that 2019 will be the year that it enters the fray on this crucial question.

As the competition to secure investments with startups continues to increase, venture capitalists are discovering new ways to strengthen their relationships with potential investment partners. In addition to listening to pitches from startup founders and reviewing financial projections, Bloomberg reports that venture capitalists are now immersing themselves in the gig economy by working for the startups that they may ultimately invest in.

The British government announced workplace reforms yesterday (which include new legislation) that will impact employers including gig economy companies, although the reforms do not seek a “radical reworking of existing business models.” The reforms set forth in the “Good Work Plan” are based on an independent review of modern working practices conducted by Matthew Taylor (“Taylor’s Review”), chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts. Taylor’s Review was commissioned by the Prime Minister, and the Reforms bring forward 51 of Taylor’s 53 recommendations.

On the heels of the NYC Council passing (and the mayor signing into law) a bill requiring minimum payments for ride-sharing drivers and a one-year freeze on the number of ride-sharing vehicle licenses issued, the NYC Council just passed another six new bills aimed at protecting both taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers. The bills, approved by the Council on November 14 and expected to soon be signed into law by Mayor DeBlasio, are focused not only on drivers’ pay, but also on the financial and mental well-being of drivers in the wake of a spate of recent driver suicides and some of the more macro-economic issues facing the taxi and ride-sharing industries in NYC.

What would it be like if Care.com and Uber had a baby? A handful of Uber-like rideshare services that have sprung up across the country are illustrating exactly what would happen. These start-ups target well-off parents who are short on time and have kids with multiple obligations after school and on weekends. They offer safe, reliable, pre-scheduled rides to get unaccompanied kids and teens where they need to go.

One of our firm’s most prolific writers and most astute analysts of all things related to workplace law in California, Ben Ebbink (Sacramento) wrote a recent post-election entry for the firm’s California Employers Blog entitled “What Will A Governor Newsom Mean For California Employers?” The entire post is worthy of your review, but two portions of his blog entry particular focus on the gig economy. Here are those two excerpts:

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