What does the gig economy mean?

a new way of working

It’s estimated that 5 million people across the UK are employed within the gig economy (BBC, 2021). That’s about the entire population of New Zealand.


But what does the gig economy actually mean for those working within it? Well, it means that people are “paid for their completion of tasks, instead of being paid for their time” (BBC,2021).

HOW ARE GIG ECONOMY WORKERS AFFECTED?

But what exactly does THAT mean? Well, it means that the guy that’s cycling to your flat at 3am to deliver your chicken wings after your night out, is being paid for that trip. But, for the time he spends waiting around for the next order to roll in, he does not get paid. 

On top of that, if he wants to take his family on holiday for a well-earned break, he’ll have to sacrifice that week of earning. Holiday pay isn’t part of the package. Now, it doesn’t sound so appealing, right?

WHY WORK IN A GIG ECONOMY?

So why do people do it? Well, that guy can take that week off for the holiday without having to request it and wait for the approval to come through. He can also decide that he doesn’t want to deliver your chicken wings at 3am because he’s going on his own night out. 

Flexibility. 


Flexibility is one of the reasons that individuals get involved with the gig economy. 48% of people working in this environment are also working a full-time job. The flexibility of the gig economy allows them to do so (Fennel, 2021).

THE PROS AND CONS FOR GIG ECONOMY

Flexibility is the main attraction. You’re not tied to the job. You can work when it suits you. It can fit in around other commitments. It can be a second (or third or fourth) income stream.

But the lack of rights, stability and guarantees can leave workers vulnerable. As time goes on, many gig economy workers realise that those workers’ rights (the holiday pay; sick pay, the guaranteed income etc) are important. They enable you to enjoy life without the worry of where the next pay cheque is coming from. 

Those workers’ rights enable that guy to take his family on that well-earned holiday. And we all deserve a holiday every once in a while.

References

BBC News, 2021. What is the ‘gig’ economy?

Fennel, A., 2021. Gig Economy Statistics UK | 2021 Industry Report