The gig economy has been getting some big news headlines over the last few months. If you have been reading the news, you will have heard the company names ‘Uber’ and ‘Deliveroo’ because they have both found themselves in disagreement with employees over workers’ rights. Both Uber and Deliveroo are big players in the gig economy, but what exactly is it?
The gig economy refers to a system of job selection and payment where workers (that’s you if you choose) turn their backs on salaried positions and choose instead a selection of smaller jobs for either one employer or several. Each job is a gig and the variety of available gigs is growing. If you rent out your home via Airbnb, sell your homemade crafts on Etsy, give people lifts for Uber or design logos via Upwork, you are already part of the gig economy and you are not alone. Across the UK the number of gig workers has risen by 28% since 2010.
Is the gig economy a good thing?
There are arguments for and against the rise of the gig economy. For freelancers (or those wishing to make money on the side) gigs offer flexibility and freedom from over-pushy bosses, unrealistic achievement expectations and restrictive company holiday practices. Many gigs are based online and can be completed anywhere, particularly whilst travelling. It is easy to see why so many people are choosing this employment route.
On the other hand gig working does not offer much in the way of employee protection. Contracts can end without warning, there is no allowance for sickness and holiday pay is non-existent. It is easy to see why an employer might prefer hiring in this way. However, gig economy employers are not necessarily unscrupulous. It is often difficult for small or medium companies to employ permanent specialists in niche areas; taking on a temporary external professional for a single job is relatively quick, easy and can provide a useful fix in difficult situations.
Pundits predict that the gig economy is here to stay. They also suggest that its growing importance in the employment market will bring about changes in communication technology, human resources metrics and company agility. These are exciting times, but maybe times in which we need to keep a secure eye on issues of rights and responsibilities.
Do you fancy joining the gig economy yourself? Here are some of the pros and cons of working from home.