Regulating Flexibility and Other 21st Century Problems

By Trevor Quan | email

Originally published December 5, 2019

In recent years, there has been significant growth and interest in the ‘gig economy,’ built upon the premise of digital platforms that connect customers with workers. New business models, characterized by smartphone apps and on-demand labour, have disrupted existing industries (like Uber and taxis) and created new ways to fulfill labour needs for companies and individuals.

While the gig economy has resonated with customers and workers (often appreciative of the opportunity for remote or flexible work opportunities to fit their schedules), there have also been concerns around the classification of these workers. In some cases, participants of the gig economy readily offer their services as freelancers or consultants, but in other cases, the classification of “freelancer” is not as clear cut. Lately, there has been a rise in criticism suggesting gig-economy companies are misclassifying workers who should, in fact, be considered employees and provided appropriate benefits as opposed to consultants.

Digital platforms of the gig economy may have originally been intended to offer part-time work flexibility, but in some cases, participants essentially work full-time on the platforms. The limited power of individual participants has led to efforts around establishing a gig worker bill of rights, labour protections, or even unionization options.

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