One million ’gig economy’ workers in California will gain additional employment rights as a result of a bill passed in the state legislature this week.
Holiday and sick pay will accrue to those working on a pay-per-job basis, often for food delivery and taxi-driving work picked up through mobile apps such as Uber and Lyft.
Assembly Bill 5, as it’s known, could drive up costs by 30% for gig economy firms, according to some estimates.
The rise of a mobile ‘gig economy’ workforce has led to fears of an erosion of hard-won workers’ rights.
In Ireland, Deliveroo’s new general manager Michael Healy recently called for an alteration in the legal basis for self-employment.
In California, Assembly Bill 5 legalises a new test to determine when a worker should be considered an employee.
Being classed as an employee yields entitlements, such as health care, minimum wage and paid time off, as opposed to the current ‘arm’s length’ approach of tech firms relying on a gig economy workforce.
US Democratic presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris have all backed the bill, which has been proposed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, whose signature is required to turn it into law.
This week Newsom told the Wall Street Journal that he planned to continue negotiating with companies hoping to be exempted from the bill.
‘Ride-sharing’ taxi companies Uber and Lyft have both proposed a referendum on the decision, and have set aside $90 million for lobbying purposes.
In a statement, Lyft said: "We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California, to preserve the freedom and access [that] drivers and riders want and need."