You’re supposed to learn something new every day, right? Here’s something that’s definitely new, unless you are a fungus aficionado — and, lucky reader, because this is a read-only post, you do not have to identify yourself if you are indeed a fungus aficionado, and if you are, TMI, and keep it to yourself.
Anyway, there’s a fungus that attacks certain kinds of ants, takes over their ant-body cells, turns them into zombies, causes them to take a final mad bite into a certain type of leaf, then causes a plant spore to sprout from their heads. Yes, really. It’s right here in this New York Times article, complete with pictures.
The Ophiocordyceps fungus is not a dinosaur, despite its suspiciously dinosaur-sounding name, but it sounds pretty ferocious and looks like it’s threatening to kill off segments of the ant population.
Another thing that is ferocious and threatening to kill something off is California’s recent Assembly Bill 5, which would convert many independent contractors into employees under state labor laws.
The latest attempt to eradicate that ferocious law comes in the form of a ballot initiative being sponsored by some of the large ride hailing and delivery app companies.
The Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act, if passed, would preserve the independent contractor status of app-based drivers in California if the app companies provide the drivers with a number of financial considerations and benefits, along with allowing the drivers to maintain control over when and where they work. The law imposes substantial driver protections that app companies are currently hesitant to provide, out of fear that providing these benefits and protections might cause the drivers to be deemed employees.
The law would strike a much-need balance that enhances driver rights while creating certainty on drivers’ classification status.
The app companies would have to provide an earnings guarantee of at least 120% of the local minimum wage for time engaged, a 30-cents per mile stipend to cover vehicle expenses, a healthcare subsidy contribution, occupational accident insurance, and liability insurance.
App companies would be prohibited from engaging in discrimination. Companies would also be required to implement a sexual harassment policy, conduct background checks, implement safety training, and implement a zero tolerance policy prohibiting driving while impaired. Rest periods would also be required.
In exchange, the app companies would receive assurance that the drivers are properly classified as independent contractors so long as four conditions are met:
(a) The network company does not unilaterally prescribe specific dates, times of day, or a minimum number of hours during which the app-based driver must be logged into the network company’s online-enabled application or platform.
(b) The network company does not require the app-based driver to accept any specific rideshare service or delivery service request as a condition of maintaining access to the network company’s online-enabled application or platform.
(c) The network company does not restrict the app-based driver from performing rideshare services or delivery services through other network companies except during engaged time.
(d) The network company does not restrict the app-based driver from working in any other lawful occupation or business.
The proposed law is supported by multiple prominent ride share and delivery app companies. Their hope is to gather enough signatures to place the issue on the November 2020 ballot in California.
This is worth watching. You can read more about it here. If passed, this can serve as model legislation to be applied elsewhere around the country.
In the meantime, if you see fungal spores starting to grow out of app drivers’ heads, you’ll know that Assembly Bill 5 got to them first. We can only hope.
© 2019 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.
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