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Posts from December 2017.

We recently ran an article about some major developments that will impact all employers as a result of the recently passed tax reform bill. But now you might be asking what specific changes might be in store for gig economy businesses. You’ve come to the right place, because we have the answer.

Many aspects of the workplace are very different now from the way they used to be just a few short years ago. The number of American workers breaking away from the typical 9-to-5 grind in favor of freelance gigs continues to rise. The question remains: what is the allure behind the gig economy for employees? These workers often say that they find empowerment, respect, and satisfaction in their self-employment. More and more, people are opting to freelance and, according to the 2017 gig economy report from MBO Partners, 74 percent do not regret this decision.

Last month, 19-year-old Antawani Wright-Davis, who worked as a bicyclist delivering food for an app-based food delivery service, was struck and killed by a dump truck while working in Boston. Because of Wright-Davis’ status as an independent contractor, his estate was not eligible for any kind of workers’ compensation benefits. Unable to pay for his funeral, his family started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.

While the national debate rages on among policymakers, gig businesses, and worker advocates about whether and how to offer benefits to gig workers, some gig businesses are coming up with creative benefit offerings to meet at least some of the needs of gig workers. 

As union membership in the private sector continues to dwindle (down to 6.4% in 2016), the American labor movement finds itself at a crossroads with the momentous, non-union gig economy. Just as the economy has evolved juristically over time, organized labor will also be forced to reinvent itself to maintain any form of relevancy. One way this is being done is through micro-unions.

By most objective measurements, the Labor Department’s December 4 jobs report was solid. CNN Money reported that employers added 228,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low of 4.1%. Meanwhile, average weekly paychecks increased by 3.1% over the last 12-months, the first time that reading has topped 3% in nearly seven years. According to gloval talent solutions firm Randstand Sourceright, the strong November jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics can partly be credited to the gig economy. According to its analysis, 61% of employers plan to switch up a significant chunk of their full-time permanent positions (one-third or greater) to contingent jobs at some point in the near future. This continuing pivot towards a gig model has helped streamline operations and demonstrates the continued value of the freelance workforce for any organization.

The well-known rideshare company Lyft has personified the above quote from legendary basketball coach John Wooden when it recently announced that it will require all eligible corporate employees to spend some time behind the wheel to experience driving passengers. Lyft’s Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Waters shared her driving experience in a recent article, saying she was surprised at how hard it was to both navigate and care for your passenger. Waters is not alone in this quest. Both the Chief Executive Officer, Logan Green, and President, John Zimmer, got a feel for the driver’s seat. In fact, all the corporate employees will be required to experience the day-to-day tasks of each Lyft driver for at least four hours every 90 days. Employees can fulfill this requirement by being a driver, staffing driver-support calls, or working within a Lyft driver hub.

Several years ago, many people were leery of the thought of ordering personal drivers through a mobile app and getting into a car of a complete stranger. However, over time, the idea of ride-sharing through Uber or Lyft has become commonplace as the experience has proven to be safe and cost-effective.  

Fisher Phillips attorney and resident blockchain guru Adam Bridgers was quoted in a Bloomberg BNA article published last week entitled, “Gigs Gone Wild: Could Blockchain Make Freelancing the Norm?” The article, written by Jasmine Ye Han, is well worth a read as it sheds an interesting perspective on how blockchain might disrupt the gig economy. But of course, it’s also worth reading because of Adam’s keen insight.

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