Lawmakers in California have passed a landmark bill that would make it much more difficult for companies such as Uber and Lyft to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees.
The bill, which paves the way for workers in the so-called gig economy to get holiday and sick pay, has garnered attention across the US and beyond, largely owing to the size of California’s workforce.
Fatima, from Guinea-Bissau, wakes up in the early hours of the morning to be in with a chance of being able to use the bathroom at her small house in Stratford, east London, which she shares with nine strangers – some are Italian, she thinks, and some might be eastern European, but nobody socialises as they are all too busy working, so she can’t really be sure.
California legislators are set to decide on legislation that would fundamentally change the way tech giants like Lyft and Uber engage with workers.
Assembly Bill 5 would change the way businesses classify employees and dramatically expand protections for gig workers. If it passes, the legislation would represent a big win for labor advocates across the state.
“This bill not only does important things immediately for workers, but also sets a framework for the future we think is really important,” said Steve Smith of the California Labor Federation.
Dozens of drivers for Uber and Lyft attempted to shut down streets in San Francisco on Tuesday, demanding the right to form a union and calling on state governments to pass a new bill supporting gig worker rights.
Lyft and Uber drivers from across California came in a 70-plus caravan to speak out in favor of Assembly Bill 5, known as AB5. Lyft and Uber have spoken against AB5, which would classify drivers as employees and enact basic worker protections.
Uber just filed its first quarterly report as a publicly traded company. Although it lost $1bn, investors may still do well because the losses appear to be declining.
Uber drivers, on the other hand, aren’t doing well. According to a recent study, about half of New York’s Uber drivers are supporting families with children, yet 40% depend on Medicaid and another 18% on food stamps.
The state assembly in California passed legislation on Wednesday that would require employers to recognize hundreds of thousands of gig workers as employees and could have far-reaching implications for contractors across the US.
In a win for labor advocates, Bill 5 passed 53-11 in the assembly and will now move to the senate. If signed by the governor, the legislation would put into action a decision made by the California state supreme court in May 2018 known as Dynamex, which uses a three-part test to determine if contractors qualify as employees entitled to protections and benefits.