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Busting 5 Myths About Gig Work Platforms



By Michelle V. Rafter, Next Avenue Contributor

Tamma Ford, 65, knew next to nothing about websites for finding gig work when she consulted one five years ago. Today, the Santa Clarita, Calif. small-business consultant and ghostwriter relies on one such platform — Upwork — for 80% of her work. Over the past four years, she’s become a top-rated contributor there, earning more than $100,000 in total.

“It works for me,” Ford said.

If you dismissed gig work sites as only for the young and tech savvy or assumed the only jobs offered are driving for ride sharing or food delivery apps, you could be overlooking a potentially valuable source of income.

Myths About Gig Work Platforms

Many myths about gig work platforms have sprouted in recent years. They’ve caused some people over 50 to incorrectly assume both bad and good things about this increasingly popular way to work.

38% of those 65+ who did some kind of paid work in the previous 12 months identify as freelancers.

Below, experts and gig workers dispel five of these myths. But first, a little about how gig platforms work.

As you likely know, a maturing gig economy as spawned online marketplaces where freelancers, independent contractors and other self-employed people can find assignments. Gig work platform sites match people with short-term and ongoing work for organizations in a variety of industries.

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At on-demand labor sites like Uber and Postmates, it doesn’t matter who’s providing the service as long as the person has a car. But employers on project-based sites like Upwork, Fiverr, ADP’s WorkMarket and LinkedIn’s ProFinder service want to know who they’re partnering with, said Marion McGovern, author of Thriving in the Gig Economy: How to Capitalize and Compete in the New World of Work.

Here are five common misperceptions about gig work sites and what you need to know to use them:

1. They’re only for millennials. Gig work isn’t just for the young. Some 29% of people 50 and older (and 38% of those 65+) who worked for pay in the previous 12 months identify as freelancers, according to the 2018 Freelancing in America survey, conducted for Freelancers Union and Upwork.

Dan Hays, 69, spent years in the oil and gas and title insurance industries before a career change that’s led him to write video scripts and other marketing materials, mainly through Fiverr. Hays, of Fort Worth, Texas, even set up a channel on Slack, the workplace collaboration app, to talk shop with older freelancers he’s met on the site.

Hays works 10 to 15 hours a week, finishing by lunchtime so his afternoons are free for the gym or other activities. “Quitting at 65 wasn’t of interest to me,” he said. “I’ll work until I say I’m done. It’s partly because I need to and partly because I love it.”

2. Gig work doesn’t pay well. Yes, the gig economy has its fair share of low-paid work. But platforms for knowledge-based work aim to distinguish themselves by offering gigs with higher pay.

The majority of projects listed on Upwork, for instance, earn $1,000 or more, said Shoshana Deuschkron, the company’s vice president of communications and brand. And a third of Upwork’s U.S. freelancers earn $50 an hour or more.

Some of the highest paid work on the site is in accounting and finance, where people with experience in corporate restructuring, bitcoin or international accounting can make more than $200 an hour.

Fiverr has outgrown its name, a holdover from when the company started nine years ago by offering gigs that paid just $5. Fiverr still lists some low-priced work, but the designer who created Apple’s logo now sells logo services on Fiverr for $10,000, said Brent Messenger, Fiverr’s vice president of public policy and community.

“It’s evolved,” he said. “People should be pricing their services appropriately based on their talent and time and the market for their services.”

On Fiverr and some other gig work sites, freelancers who go through an internal vetting process or accumulate enough positive client reviews can become top-rated sellers or graduate to a “pro” account, which can help them charge higher fees and get more work.

People who’ve retired and become business consultants can charge more because they know more, McGovern said. “They have the wisdom of age,” she noted.

3. Gig work consists mainly of one-off and short-term jobs. Although some work on gig platforms is one and done, the services have increasingly attracted companies that use it to find, manage and pay regular contributors.

In the past two years, between a third and 40% of Ford’s gig work came from repeat customers. She’s written about 30 business plans for one business-broker client alone. A wealth management industry client pays her to write a range of business materials, from complicated emails to a book. “I’ve got six or seven stories like that,” she says.

Upwork and Fiverr representatives say Fortune 500 companies use them to manage and pay independent contractors. And ADP says 1,000 companies use its WorkMarket platform for managing freelancers, who can download the WorkMarket iOS or Android app to create a profile and search for jobs.

4. You can only find decent-paying gig work in tech. LinkedIn members who go through the company’s ProFinder approval process can offer their services in one of 14 categories, including accounting, business consulting, design, legal services, insurance and home improvement. Because ProFinder is meant to be a regional service, freelancers are generally limited to bidding on work within 100 miles of where they live.

In addition to general-purpose platforms, freelancers can find work on industry-specific sites, such as 99designs for graphic designers, and GigSalad for DJs, clowns and other talent for productions and events.

McGovern advises a talent hub called LifeSciHub for people in the life sciences industry. “It’s a very narrow space, with very specialized roles,” she said. “It’s a small world, and they don’t want to be on Upwork.”

No matter what type of gig platform you choose to use, however, you can’t expect to just throw up a profile and land work, McGovern said. “You have to work it, update things. There still is a level of work that goes into making those sites go,” she added.

5. And one myth that unfortunately isn’t true: Using gig platforms doesn’t cost anything. Actually, for acting as digital matchmakers, most gig-work platforms charge fees to people looking for freelance jobs.

Those fees differ by platform.

Fiverr charges freelancers a flat 20% transaction fee regardless of the size of the project. Freelancers can get approved to upgrade to the free Fiverr Pro level, which could land them at the top of search results and result in more work.

On ProFinder, once LinkedIn approves a self-employed pro to offer services, the person can respond to up to 10 project proposals at no charge. Beyond that, however, he or she must upgrade to the Premium Business level, which costs $59.99 a month or $575.88 a year.

Upwork charges freelancers on a sliding scale based on individual client billings. Freelancers are charged a 20% commission on the first $500 earned from a single client; 10% on $501 to $10,000 in billings and 5% on anything over that.

On Upwork, in addition to listing the services they offer and waiting for companies to come to them, freelancers can bid on posted gigs. Earlier this year, Upwork began charging freelancers a nominal amount of digital tokens called “Connects” that cost $.15 each to bid on posted gigs. The change came in part to cut down on unqualified contributors who Upwork says had overrun the bid process. Upwork also offers a premium Freelancer Plus account for $14.99 a month that includes extra Connects and other perks.

People like Hays and Ford who earn income through gig work platforms say the fees are the cost of doing business and save them from spending on other kind of marketing — or at least spending as much.

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Postal workers union in Canada announces gig worker unionization effort




February 26, 2021

On Thursday, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers announced a “Gig Workers United” union campaign for Toronto delivery workers whose work is controlled by apps.

“The way it is just can’t continue — if the gig economy is going to work for our society than it can’t be based on squeezing delivery workers and restaurants for profit, and dodging our labor standards,” courier spokesperson Narada Kiondo said.

Its effort is rooted in an effort where delivery independent contractors for Foodora voted to unionize, although the company left Canada last year.

“The couriers have shown that traditional union organizing is possible in this space. But they’ve gone farther than that, with community-organizing tactics and collective mutual aid,” CUPW National President Jan Simpson said. “They’ve formed a worker-led organization that we’re proud to support because their fresh energy and ideas are what it takes to improve working conditions and reject Silicon Valley’s model of exploitation.”

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Government has no plans to create new employment status for gig workers




The Government has “no plans” to introduce a new category of employment for workers in the gig economy, which would extend to them the same rights as those of staff in more secure forms of employment, Minister of State for Trade Promotion Robert Troy has said.

Mr Troy was speaking in the Seanad on Friday, days after a landmark ruling against Uber by the UK supreme court, which said the ride hailing app’s employees were workers rather than being self-employed.

Fianna Fáil senator Mary Fitzpatrick said Deliveroo riders and those working for similar delivery companies had provided a “vital and essential service” to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Because they are in this no-man’s-land, they have no employment rights, no insurance cover if they are robbed, mugged, or in any way injured during the time they are carrying out their work,” she said.

Fine Gael senator Mary Seery Kearney said the UK ruling would lead to a “hybrid” category of employment “that marries the gig economy type flexible model of self-employed with basic employment rights”, adding: “We don’t have that category here.”


In response, Mr Troy said the Department of Social Protection was “revising and updating” the code of practice for determining the employment and self-employment status of individuals to reflect new working models.

“Ireland has a robust suite of employment rights that protects all employees equally,” he said. “All employers carry the same obligation when it comes to the compliance with employment rights.

“Ireland has always resisted the creation of sub-categories of employment as this would inevitably lead to a race to the bottom where hard won employment rights are gradually eroded. Therefore, the Government has no plan to create a third category of employment.

“It’s not clear under what criteria a person would be deemed to fall into this third category of employment where they would be neither an employee or self-employed.

“We would essentially be creating a lesser category of employee who we acknowledge is not self-employed, but to whom we would not afford the full suite of employment rights to which they are currently entitled.”

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Employment Law Coffee Break | Neurodiversity; gig economy; roadmap out of lockdown 3 and our pensions spotlight for February




Click here to listen to the audio

Welcome to our Employment Law Coffee Break in which we highlight the latest developments and issues impacting UK employers

Neurodiversity: Creating inclusivity in your workplace

This week Danielle Kingdon, employment partner, speaks with Nancy Doyle, CEO of Genius Within to provide a practical introduction to neurodiversity and the considerations for employers seeking to attract, retain and support neurodiverse talent.  For many employers their understanding of neurodiversity is just developing and this podcast provides a timely and practical outline.

What did the Supreme Court say in the Uber case?

The Supreme Court has handed down its decision in the long running “Uber” case. The decision inevitably has attracted much media attention with there being wider ranging implications for businesses operating on a platform model.  The decision highlights the need for organisations to understand the employment status of those working for them, together with workplace tax implications. This April sees reforms to IR35 rules in the private sector; given that the test of whether IR35 applies is an employment status test, this decision that the drivers were workers for employment purposes could also have implications for any IR35 status and will be relevant to any determinations carried out in relation to this. We look here at the Supreme Court’s decision and set out here our six practical takeaways for businesses.

If you would like any further assistance in this area and the implications of the new IR35 rules on your contingent workforce, please do contact our specialist workforce solutions team. Kevin Barrow will be discussing the traps in the regime as part of our Eating Compliance for Breakfast series of webinars; please register here.

Roadmap out of lockdown 3: Considerations for employers

The Prime Minister set out on 22 February a four step roadmap to “cautiously” ease lockdown restrictions in England. However, as previously, nothing is set in stone with each step to be assessed against specifc tests – centred on the vaccination programme, pressure on the NHS and any new variants of concern – to keep infection rates under control before restrictions are eased.  Separate measures to ease lockdown are being introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We now wait for further guidance but please read here for the immediate considerations for employers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also confirmed that companies who are required to do so should report their gender pay gap by the 4 April 2021 but it will not bring enforcement proceedings until 4 October 2021.

We are hosting a webinar on 3 March which looks at vaccination considerations for employers. Please register here.

Pensions spotlight for February: Climate risk governance and reporting

The Department for Work and Pensions is consulting on draft regulations and statutory guidance which will introduce climate risk governance and reporting duties for the trustees of trust-based (occupational) pension schemes from October 2021. The duties will apply to larger schemes first, but all schemes are being urged to consider what action they can take.

Climate change risk is also key for contract-based (for example, group personal) pension schemes. A number of providers have recently announced ‘net zero’ targets and the Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that it plans to consult on climate-related disclosure requirements in the first half of 2021, with a view to rules coming into force from 2022.

The main aim of these changes is to support good governance of, and appropriate action in response to, climate change risk.  The disclosure/reporting changes also mean that members (and anyone else who is interested, including action groups) will have access to more information about the way a pension scheme is considering and responding to climate change risk.

Employers might like to continue to talk to their personal pension scheme provider about the action it is taking. For the risk and other reasons we discuss at the end of this Insight, you might also like to discuss the new provisions for trust-based schemes with the trustees of any scheme that you sponsor.

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