Landmark Gig Economy Rights Bill Passed by California

Will this bill have an impact on flexible workers in the UK?

Last week, Assembly Bill 5 has been passed in California, with the aim to ensure holiday and sick pay for gig economy workers. Under state law, workers are to be considered employees if they are integral to a company’s business, or if that company demands that they follow instructions.

The Bill ensures that workers’ basic rights are raised to those of full-time employees because, in practice, the expectations of them in the workplace, are equal to that of employees – it’s only the hours that differ.

The EU passed a similar law in April 2019, aiming to provide an end to “abusive practices” around casual contracts amongst setting other minimum rights. It gave member states three years to enforce the new rules. The UK government has since suggested improvements for freelance workers’ conditions but, today, the more pressing matter for many of the UK’s freelance workers is largely the method of pay, rather than the introduction of new laws.

Nick Woodward, CEO of ETZ Payments, commented: “It is important to remember that the gig economy represents more than delivery riders and taxi drivers. Almost half of freelance workers are highly skilled, meaning that their priorities often centre around the reliability of payment, rather than requirements for laws implementing rights. There are multiple ways to improve working conditions for freelance workers, including reliable payments that allow flexible workers to plan their finances in the same way permanent employees can.

“The gig economy is growing exponentially and is only likely to continue with more and more highly skilled workers opting to work in a freelance capacity to earn more money and achieve a better work/life balance. California’s step forward paves the way for a better understanding about the treatment and recruitment of freelance workers. In the UK, it will be interesting to see how Brexit affects the EU ruling, but companies and recruiters would do well to recognise steps that they can take to improve the conditions of flexible workers including same-day payments. ETZ Payments offer a 60-second solution that transforms workers’ timesheets into physical payment, in a timeframe that suits the employee – whether that is the same day, weekly, or monthly.”

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