Anyone who’s ever done gig work – from rideshare drivers to freelance writers – experiences moments of doubt. At those times, it’s easy to believe that no one is thinking about your value as a worker, or how to protect you in the most basic ways that full-timers might take for granted.
Rest easy, gigsters: Someone is thinking about you, starting with governments around the world that suddenly seem aware of how big of a deal gig work has become in the past 10 years. The February 2020 Gig Economy Tracker, powered by Tipalti, analyzes recent trends and headlines in the mushrooming gig belt, which will comprise some 75 million Americans by the end of this year. Put another way, that’s closing in on half the U.S. workforce. It’s also revising long-held definitions of “workday” and “payday” as gig work (and gig workers) proliferate.
Another thing freelancers know about are all the ways payments can go wrong. They’re experts on the many snags that prevent gig folk from getting paid in time to make rent. But that situation is giving way to more enlightened and humane ways of getting freelancers their money, as industry and government finally face gig economics they’ve been ignoring.
As Manish Vrishaketu, COO at payment services provider Tipalti, notes in this latest Tracker, “Gig and marketplace partner payments are integral to the business model and require careful consideration. Ineffective payments can literally hurt the business, because the supply chain is so closely tied to performance and success. An unhappy provider – who likely is customer-facing — may taint your reputation with customers. Gig payments are mission-critical.”
Who Am I?
Much of the gig economy talk these days has to do with California’s Assembly Bill 5 – known simply as AB5 – which is essentially forcing large gig economy players like Uber to start treating their gig workers more like team members and less like expendable cogs in a machine.
California’s legislation set off a wildfire of sorts, with U.S. cities and states – as well as nations including India – announcing laws similar to AB5, at least in spirit. Some actually go quite a bit further into fairly draconian territory as governments set things right for gig workers – whether gig workers want the help or not.
Many are unhappy with how the new laws are written, and how they recategorize freelancers. U.S. legal maneuvering over gig work is far from over, as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that reclassifies certain freelancers. And the wrangling has just begun.
Legal standing hasn’t stopped companies from snapping up gig workers, though. Package delivery service Amazon Flex debuted in Australia in January, and could be coming to a city near you soon.
The Gig Grows Up
India has proposed one of the more interesting takes on this. The country’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade wants only licensed professional freelancers to do gig work. They would be issued a kind of vendor ID number under the plan – but it’s not a done deal.
In fact, when it comes to the gig economy, very little has been settled, from regulation to the legal status of “workers” to who’s responsible for what under these agreements. It promises to be a rollicking year as these laws (and their court challengers) zero in on what “gig” means.