We all have the ability to dream, to imagine doing things we aren’t yet doing. We dream of having a steady income, financial security, and enjoying our work. Some individuals have found they are able to achieve part of their dream with employment in the form of gigs – a gig here, a gig there – enjoying the work on their own schedule.
Those who are comfortable with this model may have a fallback that provides the steady income and financial security to make it all fit together. Think of a joint relationship with a spouse or partner who has a traditional, old-fashioned job that pays a regular paycheck, offers medical benefits for the family, and retirement. This is part of the reason why so many Americans can live the independent work-life dream.
But what about those gig workers who don’t have the financial security of a partner with traditional employment benefits? Are they stuck with only part of the dream? Are they destined to a life without financial security if something goes wrong? These are the questions driving an interest in changing laws to help independent contractors have regular worker protections. As with any cultural development, however, it is usually the dreamers and individuals who will figure out a way to make this work long before the government agencies catch up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it is often our ability to imagine and get things done that allows for experimentation, trial, and error.
Instead of waiting for the government to figure it out, this writer imagines independent development of solutions. Envision classes at our secondary schools that teach people how to navigate from one gig to another, more tools and resources available to smooth out the financial humps, and portable benefits where independent contractors can join and get great health and welfare benefits at costs controlled through high volume discounts. There’s no doubt about it, this is a movement that will take shape with or without adjustments to employment law. It starts with imagination and will culminate with ingenuity.