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California passes landmark gig economy workers’ rights bill

Published: September 11, 2019 17:28:39 | Updated: September 16, 2019 11:30:45


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, reports theguardian.com.

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. Several Democratic presidential candidates have supported the measure, including the US senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California.

Trade groups and “gig economy” firms that rely heavily on contractors have sharply criticised the bill. “We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers and riders want and need,” the ride-hailing company Lyft said in a statement. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment after US market hours.

Last week, Uber and Lyft proposed a ballot referendum that could be presented to California voters next year and would exempt drivers for ride-hailing services from the scope of the bill, known as AB5.

Uber, Lyft and the delivery firm DoorDash, which has also made freelance drivers the backbone of its business, earmarked $90m (£73m) for a planned November 2020 ballot initiative that would exempt them from the law.

San Francisco-based DoorDash, expressing its disappointment at the vote, said it was committed to a new law that would guarantee benefits and protections, including a minimum wage, for its delivery drivers.

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