If you work in the UK or US, you’ll have heard about the rise of the gig economy. But how much time have you spent thinking about what it means to you as an employer in terms of training, policies, and workers’ rights?
Viewed more positively it’s an opportunity for employers in a tight labour market to stand out from the crowd.
In this post, we explore what the gig economy looks like, your responsibilities as employers and the opportunities it presents.
What is the gig economy?
While there are different definitions, the gig economy can be boiled down to this: a labour market where individual workers take on individual short-term projects, or gigs. For some, this means the ultimate flexibility – work when they want it, not when they don’t. For others, it equates to low paid, insecure work with minimal employment rights. Whatever the view, it makes up a significant part of the labour market, with estimates of between 1.1 million and 1.8 million workers in the UK, and 16 million in the US. And nearly half of all Millennials are already working in the gig economy. These individuals are doing work for companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Airbnb, and Hermes.
However, the boundaries relating to employment have become blurred. Recent court cases have demonstrated that employment rights within the gig economy are a contested area. These concerns have led to an independent review of working practices in the UK, itself leading to draft legislation, in an effort to provide greater clarity about the status of these workers. The spotlight has been shone on enforcing holiday and sick pay entitlements, allowing flexible workers to demand more stable contracts, and giving all workers the right to demand a payslip.
What is the impact of Gig Workers on training, policies and rights?
But introducing these entitlements alone isn’t going to enable you to meet the requirements you have as an employer. Think about health and safety. How can you guarantee that your contracted freelancers meet the relevant standards and practices? And how can you make sure that your data is protected if you don’t train your gig economy workers on GDPR? How will be you be able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to avoid a data breach? And for those employers who want to make the most out of their freelancers, what extra steps could you take to add benefit to your workers and make you stand out from the crowd? Training, policies, and rights are key for all workers, not just those with traditional contracts.
We believe that the answers lie in making your compliance based training and resource provision available to all your contracted staff, no matter the status of their contract. Why? We think taking action is essential for three main reasons:
- You’ll ensure that all your employees are trained in essential compliance issues, like health and safety and GDPR. This will help you manage the risks of non-compliance as well as creating better-informed workers.
- You’ll increase the knowledge across all your workforce, meaning they’re better placed to deliver the level of service you demand. In turn, this will improve the service you offer to your clients and customers.
- You’ll build loyalty across your worker base and become known as a good company to contract with. If you treat your gig economy workers well, these brand champions will sing your praises.
And with an online training platform like WorkWize LMS, meeting these demands won’t mean vast additional costs. Rolling your resources out across your workforce can be done at costs that are manageable at the same time as mitigating risks and offering greater benefits.
The challenge of training, policies and the Gig Worker is not going away…
Perhaps the biggest driver behind this change will be the projected growth of the gig economy as we head into the future. According to Forbes, freelancers within the gig economy are expected to make up the majority of the workforce by 2027. If you’ve not thought through how you’ll manage this significant segment of the workforce, then you risk your business falling behind, or worse – failing to comply with key regulations. Take the opportunity now to stand out from the crowd and open up access to your training to all your workers.
If you would like a free trial of any of our 40+ eLearning courses or a demonstration to show how WorkWize can automate training, policies, and procedures for Gig workers, just complete the form below:
 For estimates of the size of the gig economy, see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42959756 and http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-the-gig-economy-meaning-definition-why-is-it-called-gig-economy for the UK and https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/07/america-gig-economy-work-bureau-labor-statistics for the US.