Canadian Employment Law Today

September 27, 2017

Focuses on human resources law from a business perspective, featuring news and cases from the courts, in-depth articles on legal trends and insights from top employment lawyers across Canada.

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the opportunity of being independent contractors. A balance must be struck. Another obstacle that regulators will need to overcome is determining how to reduce the problems associated with the gig economy through regulation, while at the same time not stifling the growth of these companies. Gig economy compa- nies will provide crucial work opportuni- ties at a time when work opportunities are fading rapidly. One way in which regulators must be careful about how regulations may affect companies is cost. Many gig economy companies are startups, and thereby par- ticularly cost-sensitive. Regulations must be sufficient to protect workers, but not cost-prohibitive for gig economy compa- nies. Fortunately, gig economy companies such as Managed by Q, Instacart, Hello Alfred and Munchery all provide employ- ee-like benefits to their workers, so it can be done. Another problem will be crafting a uni- form set of regulations to a non-homoge- nous industry. ere is a vast array of com- panies within the gig economy, and not all protections make sense for all companies. For example, imposing overtime require- ments on companies such as Uber may not make sense, as employees have substantial autonomy about how much they can work in a day. However, overtime requirements may make sense for other companies. Workers for delivery companies like Post- mates risk being deactivated if they cancel deliveries, even if on the basis that the de- livery times are taking much longer than expected. In this circumstance, workers are in a sense being compelled to work longer hours and thus should arguably be provided overtime rates. Going forward e gig economy is something to be em- braced. It is not something to fear — if not because of its benefits, at least because it will likely make up the workforce of the fu- ture whether we like it or not. e primary challenge going forward is to facilitate the beneficial aspects of the gig economy, such as its work opportuni- ties, but not at the expense of vital worker protections. While crafting regulations will no doubt be an unenviable task, the first step is to acknowledge that something must be done. Although the most difficult part lies ahead, we can at least take solace in knowing that, when it comes to the ar- gument that workers in the gig economy should be treated as independent contrac- tors, the gig is up. Canadian HR Reporter, a Thomson Reuters business 2017 September 27, 2017 | Canadian Employment Law Today CREDIT: MR.WHISKEY/SHUTTERSTOCK ABOUT THE AUTHOR GEOFF MASON Geoff Mason is an employment lawyer with Kent Employment Law in Vancouver and Kelowna. He can be reached at (604) 266-7006 or geoff@

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