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TaskRabbit is a company that offers online solutions for individuals seeking to recruit other persons to carry out their duties and errands. Apparently, the idea seems simple but with the flexibility of the Internet, it is highly effective. For those that have dirty lawns or room, but feeling tired or committed elsewhere and not seeking a continuous employer-employee commitment, TaskRabbit is the viable option.
The unique online services are immensely vital for people planning to relocate to a new estate or home, or just a long trip, but are unwilling to beg nearby store managers for their subject’s services to help with the readying of luggage. Task Rabbit offers the solutions of temporary services.
All one needs to do is sign up with TaskRabbit, and start to enjoy the efficient services of dedicated people in search of odd jobs. TaskRabbit cuts the niche of an online hub that provides exceptionally common services, and it is probable, many iOS subscribers have yet to notice the immense opportunities and legal challenges that the medium offers.
According to Edgar (2010), TaskRabbit supports the exploration of its services by users through applications such as Facebook Connect, which offers users effective navigation options without necessarily filling the sign up form online. The online tool leans more on setting up employment opportunities that seeking a service, a development that is normally facilitated by cutting-edge technology.
Owing to the TaskRabbit application that is apparently intended to establish tasks more than employment opportunities especially of the company workforce, legal regulations guiding employment agencies could catch up with it, internally as a result of employee court cases or externally following civil cases filed by regulatory bodies that oversee employment issues.
Meanwhile, if one has a task that needs accomplishing, he or she picks a group from the default options provided on the site, such as washing, shopping or transporting food, after which the ‘employer’ keys in his or her details.
According to Figueroa (2010), task details an inputted by the service beneficiary may include exact location for easy delivery of goods and services; a timeframe within which the task should be carried out and the service fee that the buyer of a service is comfortable to pay.
For users who are not comfortable with the entry of their true identity, and commodity specification, perhaps due to time constraints, an audio file or pictures that illustrate the nature of the job are welcome. Nonetheless, this could open floodgates to fictitious persons into the business.
Meanwhile, one can either configure the application to routinely choose a TaskRabbit or just employ manual assignment of the task after reviewing the options available. TaskRabbit delivery agents undergo rigorous vetting process, an initiative executed by the company to assure job submitters of security and convenience.
The company executives must have learnt the weaknesses of the online medium which carries genuine users and criminals, and that a haphazard method of selecting task runners might be a fertile ground for recruiting individuals of uncalled for character, who may prove costly to the company if a victim sues for reparation of a criminal act targeted at him or her (Edgar, 2010).
If an individual is interested in finding out the kind of jobs that are awaiting workers in a given locality, the “browse tasks” button offers the solution. It displays available tasks and their exact location on a chart of an enquired region. TaskRabbit services have been extended from San Francisco to Chicago, Boston, Orange County, Calif, Los Angeles, and New York (Figueroa, 2010).
Although, the task that TaskRabbit capitalizes on from its base in San Francisco is to help link committed persons with a jobless individuals who are capable of executing the job, the expansion of the job giver-task seeker across states is likely to raise lots of legal issues in different states that could hamper its operations.
For now, the company is one of several outsourcing websites that rely on social networks for wider outreach and appeal to clients.
Likely legal implications
Gerzema (2011) suggests that from the look of things, TaskRabbit seems to be establishing a provisional employer-employee association when the task posted on the site matches the capacity of a task performer. For a limited number of assignments, the ‘employee’ could be classified as a worker under contract basis and should be entitled to tax waivers that regular employees are not subjected to.
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Nonetheless, in case a Runner enjoys an extensive and continuous relationship with job submitters, for example through several related tasks with TaskRabbit, particularly for more than 12 months, this could be noticed by respective State Employment organizations in the regions where the company is operating.
Generally, Edgar (2010) believes one of the primary determining factors which dictate employer-employee-contract working relationships is who calls the shots with regard to the various aspects of the job, such as the actual working location, the best time to execute a given task and what it takes to call a job well done, conditions which are fulfilled by both the company and task clients.
Further, if those issues are ironed out through negotiations between the job poster and the individual seeking the job, then the two parties may be referred to as the employee and employer who enjoy the bond that is present in any other formal job agreement.
If that is the situation, TaskRabbit may arguably just take the form of the facilitator and does not play the role of an employment agency. Nonetheless, it is arguable that if TaskRabbit were reduced to a mere third party, playing the role of a facilitator, it would not go the extra mile of vetting likely runners and paying the runners on behalf of the ‘real’ employer (Figueroa, 2010).
Additionally, analysis of TaskRabbit reveals that the company is in fact tendering financial reports regarding Runner payments to the IRS through 1099.
The company also reaffirms that employees are actually self-determining parties, without any solid contractual commitment with the company, thus there is no need to fulfill legal obligations that is required of employers.
Indeed, as stipulated in the TaskRabbit rules of the game, they appear to drop the legal gauntlet of employment tax remission at the Runners’ doors. Conversely, Gerzema (2011) believes this endangers the operations of the Runners, many of who may be uninformed of the storm that they are fermenting through their actions.
Legal hurdle that the Runners might face revolve around their bidding measures of job acquisition, while not being abreast with the likelihood of their substantial reduction of wages if the tax man descended on them. Worse still, failure to remit the taxes willingly, could expose the Runners to huge legal fines and possible prosecution for evading tax.
In general, companies that rely on online social networking sites have been accused of violating user privacy, and relying on some level of unverified information posted by users. TaskRabbit may not escape the condemnation either.
The TaskRabbit of allowing users to post the kind of task they need accomplished and the cost they are ready to pay could be disastrous in terms of under-valuing or overvaluing of the Runner tasks. The company’s unwillingness to take insurance cover for its operations could prove legally devastating to the operations in case of a problem realized during operations.
It may not be easy to trace a Runner that did not disclose his or her true identity, but disappears with the property of a job submitter. Worse still, the company may come under a barrage of legal tussles in case the Runners fail to deliver whole items to the clients, because of day to day accidents such as breakages during delivery process.
The company should therefore set up safeguarding measures to protect the privacy of users, insure its operations and hammer out a solid employment deal with the Runners to avoid any possible legal challenges.
Edgar, L. (2010). Now You Can Auction Off Your Coffee Run. Bloomberg Businessweek, (4204), 46-47.
Figueroa, A. (8/5/2010). “TaskRabbit: new part-time work for people without jobs.” Christian Science Monitor. Print.
Gerzema, J. (2011). The Joblet Recovery. Inc., 33(8), 38.