TRADUCTATERM IN FOCUS: GIG ECONOMY
Investopedia describes the gig economy as follows:
“In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.”
This type of marketplace is facilitated by online platforms, such as Uber (a taxi service) or Deliveroo (which delivers food from restaurants to clients). It also encompasses platforms such as AirBnB, which enables users to rent out accommodation and Etsy, whose users sell jewellery, clothing and accessories. Instead of earning a salary, workers get paid for “gigs” they do (e.g. the items they sell, the deliveries they complete).
Proponents of the gig economy point to its potential for offering workers greater flexibility, allowing them to fit the time they spend earning money around the rest of their lives. Likewise, employers benefit from the fact that they don’t have to spend money on salaries at times of low demand. However, this can have some serious consequences for employees: it can be difficult to plan long or even medium term if you don’t know what you are going to earn, there is no sickness or holiday pay, and little protection against dismissal. As a result, there may be little stability for the worker. They could find themselves lacking a safety net in times where they cannot work, whether this is due to ill health, unforeseen circumstances, or simply low demand.
This lack of security has led to controversy as to whether people who work for platforms such as Uber should be classified as “workers” or “independent contractors”. Those who support such workers being seen as employees point to the highly uneven in bargaining power between such large companies and individual service-providers. It seems that the definition of the gig economy will carry on evolving along with the concept itself.
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