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Michael Bailey on Gig Economy Review Essay

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Updated: Jan 15th, 2022

There is no doubt that digital technology has opened new avenues for millions of people across the globe to find work. Although different platforms use many terms to describe their associated online businesses, they all have a common feature of allowing entrepreneurs to meet and do commerce. The article focuses on the rise of the gig economy in Australia, where the concept has gained momentum since its inception (Bailey, 2016). The gig economy is one of the cultural phenomena in the 21st century, and it has made it possible for people to get jobs as independent workers (Schor, 2016). The publication states that approximately 2.5 million individuals have benefited from the gig economy; thus, it is a concept that should be analyzed from political and economic points of view.

One of the issues the author raises in the article is about business regulations on digital platforms. However, if rules and laws are not put in place, this type of economy will be exploited by corporations as well as users of services. Many online platforms view people whom they employ as independent contractors. This perception denies the many benefits they would enjoy as workers in the traditional industries. In this context, it can be argued that the winners are sharing economy firms while losers are contracted, entrepreneurs. Denying causal work protections for online firms is an issue, as the employees would be vulnerable to mistreatment by their employers. The usefulness of the categorization and development of alternative forms of protection for casual workers in the gig economy are critical issues for policymakers (Baker, 2016).

Sharing economy companies hold the view that the people who offer them services do that while they are not engaged in the primary jobs that give them incomes. Thus, corporations argue that their independent contractors should access the same benefits provided on permanent or long-term employment. That notwithstanding, the argument by digital technology companies raises two important matters for consideration. First, the extent to which the description of the workers is accurate is not clear. As stated by Baker (2016), there are no reliable data to be utilized to determine the portion of employees working for firms in the sharing economy who offer their services on a full-time or part-time basis. However, there is a lot of data from people working for firms such as Uber and Lyft on a full-time basis. Second, the sharing economy workers should enjoy protection even if their employment is not perceived as a traditional job.

Regardless of the current number of people working for the sharing economy firms on full-time or part-time arrangements, the number will increase as the form of economy maintains its growth trends (Lieber, 2016). Thus, it would be critical for the entrepreneurs offering their services through digital technology platforms to enjoy benefits as those experienced by employees in traditional jobs. One of the most important protections that these workers can enjoy is the right to take part in collective bargaining. This implies that people employed by firms such as Uber should be allowed by labor regulations to create organizations as well as a bargain for better wages and conditions without the fear of losing their jobs. The range of issues at hand is lengthy since gig economy laborers should also be protected by regulations that stipulate minimum wages and hours. What this implies is that they should get paid minimum wages and earn overtime payments when necessary. Just like in traditional jobs, workers in the sharing economy should be entitled to unemployment benefits in case they are laid off when their services are no longer needed (Baker, 2016).

Policymakers should be at the forefront to redesign the traditional labor regulations. It will make sense if the government passes laws to make sharing economy employers pay minimum wages and meet overtime payment requirements. It is important to note that this will not only disadvantage the firms by making them abide by the law; it will give them a back-door they opt not to use. The logic of the regulations would apply despite whether players in the industry think workers in the relatively new economy are like those in the traditional economy.

References

  1. Bailey, M. (2018). The gig economy is growing whether you like it or not. The Australian Financial Review, pp. C5-C6.
  2. Baker, D. (2016). Testimony of Dean Baker, co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research. Hearing on “the disrupter series: How the sharing economy creates jobs, benefits consumers, and raises policy questions.” In P. Dugan (Ed), Sharing (aka gig) economy: Overview, Issues and perspectives (pp. 65-73). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
  3. Lieber, J. (2016). Statement of Jonathan Lieber, chief economist, thumbtack. hearing on “the disrupter series: how the sharing economy creates jobs, benefits consumers, and raises policy questions. In P. Dugan (Ed), Sharing (aka gig) economy: Overview, issues and perspectives (pp. 95-105). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
  4. Schor, J. (2016). Debating the sharing economy. Journal of Self-Governance & Management Economics, 4(3). 1-15.
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