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Breaking News | Gig economy: What it is? Who works in it? And why is it in the news?

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What is the gig economy?

Strictly speaking it’s any economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers. However, it’s become synonomous with digital service platforms that connect consumers with various businesses.

Think of an Uber driver or a Deliveroo cyclist. Each piece of work is akin to an individual “gig” hence the name. Gig workers tend not to be employed directly by companies and work instead as independent contractors.

While this gives them greater flexibility they don’t get the benefits that permanent employees enjoy such as holiday pay or sick pay and can be left high and dry when work isn’t available.

Over the past 20 years, there’s been a gradual shift away from stable, permanent work and a rise in temporary or contingent work.

This trend is being driven by globalisation, which has increased competition in the workplace and liberalised markets, and by digitalisation, which is providing new ways to work and new business models.

How many people in the Republic work in it?

This is hard to gauge but studies suggest around 200,000 workers here are classified as being in temporary or contingent employment arrangements. This equates to about 8 or 9 per cent of the workforce.

However, Seamus McGuinness of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) says while most gig jobs tend to be temporary, not all temporary jobs are gig jobs. He says gig workers are likely to make up a relatively small share of temporary workers.

“For instance, individuals in service and sales occupations, where we expect many gig workers to be located, make up only 25 per cent of all temporary (non-student) employment,” he says.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

That’s a difficult question as it covers a multitude of work arrangements, some good and rewarding, others precarious and badly paid. Some gig economy workers are what you might call micro-entreprenuers running their own businessess.

Many of these are well-paid professionals who have decided that it makes more sense for them to work flexibly. But that’s a world away from someone on a zero-hours contract, employed to clean a hospital or deliver takeaways.

These workers typically find themselves on rolling, fixed-term contracts with little or no control of their work arrangements.

They often end up working similar hours to permanent employees but with zero job security and zero benefits. Getting enough work to provide a stable income from gigs alone isn’t always easy either and many workers have low incomes as a result.

Why is the gig economy in the news?

The potentially hazardous working conditions of gig economy workers was higlighted this week by the tragic death of Deliveroo cyclist Thiago Cortes.

Cortes (28), orginally from Brazil, was killed in a hit-and-run incident while out working in Dublin on Monday night. Advocacy groups claim the food delivery sector here, which employs mainly students and migrants, is poorly regulated.

So what about the rights of these workers?

This is a very contentious area. Categorising workers as independent contractors or “riders” has enabled some gig economy companies to avoid paying employee payroll taxes while leaving workers without vital benefits and protections. There are legal ramifications to calling your staff “employees”.

The employment status of gig workers in companies such as Uber and Deliveroo has the subject legal cases in several countries. Workers are fighting for their status to be changed so they are afforded minimum wage entitlements and other protections.

Earlier this year, the Irish High Court rejected an appeal by a company in the Domino’s Pizza franchise against a finding by Revenue that their delivery drivers should be classifed PAYE workers. It was the first major judgment in this jurisdiction on the gig economy.

However, the line between “employee” and “worker” remains blurred and there has been no major policy initiative in the area. Deliveroo has been calling on the Government to amend legislation covering self-employed workers to allow the company offer them benefits without making them employees.

However it insists its workers do not fall under new EU rules designed to give gig workers greater protections.

The company has launched a free insurance package for its delivery agents, or riders, in Ireland, covering personal injuries as well loss of income while incapacitated.

What else?

Food delivery platform Just Eat has vowed to stop using gig workers in Europe, with its chief executive Jitse Groen saying he wants to employ people who get benefits and have workplace security.

Mr Groen who founded Takeaway. com in Holland in 2000, said the coronavirus pandemic had made him more considerate of the difficulties that gig workers face.

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Comedian Hannibal Buress working the drive-in circuit, starting with North Ridgeville gig | Entertainment

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A calming voice during the chaos of life.

That’s what irreverent and satirical comedian Hannibal Buress brings to the stage.

Nowhere was this comedic aesthetic more on display than at one of Buress’ favorite Northeast Ohioappearances. His memory of the 2013 show at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights remains as vivid as ever.

“At the time, I was doing my song ‘Gibberish Rap,’” said Buress, calling from the Chicago. “I was really into the production of it, so we hired a lot of local costumed characters in each city. In Cleveland, we got this Incredible Hulk who was really dancing. I think we also had a Mario.

“(Lorain-based comedian) Ramon (Rivas II) had a couple of friends agree to come on stage and do balloon animals. It was chaos. That was a fun one. I had a great time.”

Getting his start nearly 20 years ago, the Windy City-based comedian’s resume includes brief stints writing for “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock.” He also appeared in the hilarious “The Eric Andre Show” and feature film “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” as well as made the late-night talk show rounds.

While Buress wasn’t the first person to speak out about rape allegations against Bill Cosby, it was his viral set that started the dominoes to fall and helped lead to “America’s Dad” going to prison. (Unfortunately, Buress’ publicist requested no Cosby questions in this recent phone interview.)



Hannibal Buress-v

Comic Hannibal Buress says you’re not looking for jokes related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, so he’s not doing any. 




That turned out to be just fine because the timing of his most recent special “Miami Nights,” which debuted on YouTube this summer, couldn’t have been any more apropos considering the current climate in the country.

The centerpiece of the special is his unlawful 2017 arrest in Miami.

“There are some people in those positions, police officers, who aren’t really emotionally suited to be in the spot — including this guy that I interacted with,” Buress said. “With everything that’s happening, it forces them to really look within at how people are being evaluated when they go into those positions, because it’s a very important position. You want folks who are stable.

“The thing with [the police officer who arrested him] is he had been disciplined. He had off-duty incidents where he ran from the police. He was a fugitive, and I got arrested by him somehow. It’ll take some time for things to fix themselves, but there’s a lot of work being done and there’s a lot of work to do.”

Speaking of work, Buress remains as busy as possible during the pandemic. Not only did he recently release the first episode of his new gambling-centered podcast, “Splitting 10s,” but he’s also looking to get back on the road.

Buress’ “Let’s See How This Goes” drive-in theater tour kicks off in Northeast Ohio with a gig Sept. 22 at North Ridgeville’s Auto-O-Rama Twin Drive In.

Mind you, Buress admitted it’s been decades since the last time he visited a drive-in theater, but everyone has to get a bit out of his or her comfort zone these days.

“I saw that Marc Rebillet and Bert Kreischer did a drive-in theater tour, so I decided to try it out,” Buress said. “It’s something new. Some comedy clubs are open, but you’re not really able to do full capacity. The drive-in-show experience is still something that’s kind of fresh, so I think it’ll be dope for people.”

While fans attending the show can expect new material, there’s one fresh topic he won’t be talking about. Buress said he doesn’t have any COVID-19 material.

“Hell, no,” Buress laughed. “Nope. No pandemic jokes. People don’t want to hear that.”

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Gig workers like and want flexibility, that’s why they became gig workers – Orange County Register

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Are gig workers ⁠— think Uber drivers or Door Dashers ⁠— seeking to trade their flexible occupations for a full-time, 40-hour-week job?

Two recent surveys suggest they’re not interested. A survey of 1,000 on-demand drivers, commissioned by Uber and conducted by a duo of polling firms representing clients on the political left and right, finds that 85 percent prefer some version of their current flexible arrangement. Another survey ⁠— this one of 1,000 independent contractors, and commissioned by Lyft ⁠— concluded that 71 percent want to retain their current status.

Both surveys suggest that workers are happy with their “gig.” Don’t tell that to labor unions and their allies. To bolster their opposition to Proposition 22 ⁠— an initiative on the fall ballot that would solidify on-demand drivers’ and shoppers’ status ⁠— labor has pointed to a handful of comforting studies suggesting that gig workers are exploited.

The first, released through a San Francisco city commission, claimed that most gig workers work full-time schedules and earn poverty-level wages while doing so. But records requests, reported by the Washington Free Beacon, discovered that this conclusion was based on a convenience survey of respondents identified by a labor group–many of whom were paid for their answers. The study organizer acknowledged that the survey–which was drafted to “support organizing” ⁠— was “not representative” of gig workers’ experiences.

Speaking of unrepresentative: Labor and its allies have also hinged their case on a 2019 working paper from Veena Dubal, a law professor at the University of California-Hastings. In her paper, Dubal dismisses the numerous statistical surveys showing that on-demand drivers don’t want to be employees. Her own conclusions are based on “unstructured conversations with drivers in driver organizing meetings” ⁠— among other unrepresentative sources.

Got that? Having sought out the unhappy few among the on-demand shopper and driver community, Dubal concludes that all drivers in the state must feel similarly.

This anti-empirical stance by labor and its academic allies, and their unwillingness to acknowledge that shoppers and drivers prefer their “gigs,” has dangerous consequences.  In a recent legal brief, rideshare company Uber described in damning detail what would happen should it be forced to convert its independent drivers into full-time employees.

An estimated 75 percent of current drivers would lose access to the Uber employment model–resulting in one million lost employment opportunities. (The legal brief notes that these facts are undisputed by the company’s opponents.) Prices would increase for riders by anywhere from 20 to 120 percent; the company further explains that “at least a quarter of rides would no longer be available, with certain cities experiencing a decrease of 40-60 percent.”

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Collaboration in the Gig Economy keynote day one

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18 September 2020

Hiring managers already have a much more complex choice than in the past. It’s not just whether to hire a traditional employee to get a job done — the procurement supply chain is much larger. Today’s choices include using a staffing agency temp, engaging an independent contractor, calling in an SOW consultant or turning to an online work platform. And technology continues to bring changes — with Covid-19 speeding up the evolution.

“I would argue that times of crisis and times of change, like we are in today, will help propel the next stage of digital transformation,” SIA President Barry Asin said in a keynote speech Thursday kicking off the Collaboration in the Gig Economy virtual conference.

Asin cited technological change wrought by the last recession: In 2007, only 24% of large companies had a VMS in place at its start in 2007; by 2020, the percentage had grown to 64%.

Fast forward to today — there was $1 billion in venture capital funding focused on the HR tech space in the second quarter alone.

Large companies that use staffing are more and more turning to tech. SIA data found 43% of large staffing buyers foresee an increase in usage of online staffing/talent pool in the next 10 years. Evolving concepts such as direct sourcing are already used by 30% of buyers, and 49% plan to put a direct-sourcing program in place within the next two years; much of it fueled by new tech offerings.

“I think that what we’re seeing — particularly for the traditional service providers in the talent supply chain — is a real digital transformation, and the current crisis is accelerating that digital transformation,” Asin said. “And it’s accelerating it for all the players involved at the different points of that supply chain.”

Already, 54 million Americans did gig work in 2019, approximately 34% of workforce, according to SIA data. That amounts to $1.3 trillion in spend with the largest share going to independent contractors. SIA defines the gig economy as including all types of contingent work, including

  • staffing agency temporary workers
  • SOW consultants
  • directly hired temporaries
  • online platform workers
  • independent contractors

The Collaboration in the Gig Economy Conference brings together all parts of the ecosystem to talk the latest trends and advances. Attendees include enterprise buyers, staffing suppliers, VMS/MSP companies, human cloud/on demand platforms and technology solutions providers.

“There is a wave and a transformational change that we are seeing in society,” Asin said. “Many of you are on the leading edge of that change.”

The virtual event continues through today.

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