As the gig economy surges, on-demand workers are popping up in wider variety of industries. Trends indicate that the proportion of the U.S. workforce engaging in some form of gig arrangement will continue to increase, rising from the over one-third who are already participating. It is therefore no wonder that one of the largest slices of the nation’s economy – healthcare – is attracting more gig workers. In fact, this concept is not entirely new. Many healthcare employers have historically offered gig-like classifications and systems to help them retain a cadre of employed nurses and other professionals. Questions remain about the extent to which actual gig relationships can be effective in this vast industry.
The burgeoning gig economy helps companies attract talent and gain new levels of nimbleness in support of efforts to satisfy customers and gain an edge on the competition. The gig relationship is obviously attractive to many. It gives workers greater flexibility, with meaningful opportunities for those who are entrepreneurially inclined.
As we reported just a few weeks ago, Congress has begun to gather information and consider the “future of work,” with considerable emphasis on the role of the gig economy. Although this emergency economy is growing rapidly, tension is also growing within its ranks. In particular, gig workers are attracted to earning money while maintaining all the flexibility and control they can exercise in these arrangements. But they are not entirely comfortable with the concept of being an independent contractor (IC) if that means they have no fringe benefits, are not covered by the minimum wage, and have no protection from non-discrimination laws. In this way, and in a much truer sense, ICs are “on their own.”
Driven by a scarcity of qualified talent and the need for their companies to be increasingly agile and cost-effective, human resources (HR) leaders are increasing their focus on and preparing to embrace the mounting gig economy. According to software company Oracle, almost 40% of companies surveyed are currently hiring on a temporary or project basis, but that may be just the veritable tip of the iceberg. Half of HR decision makers say they will be hiring more workers on a project basis by 2020.
A putative class action case, alleging that online food delivery service GrubHub misclassified its drivers, has survived a motion to dismiss and will proceed in California federal court. Noting that GrubHub’s view of the facts may ultimately prevail, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said that at this stage, the drivers’ pleadings gave rise to “plausible inference” that they should not have been classified as independent contractors, and thus may have impermissibly been denied minimum wage and overtime pay.