By Jennifer Van Grove
The San Diego Union-Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at the ever-expanding gig economy and its ramifications for the people who work within it. These gig workers look like regular employees but they also look like independent contractors. While the on- demand economy can be a great vehicle for women in business, female entrepreneurs who operate as independent contractors need to understand their rights or risk being treated unfairly.
The gig is up.
The independent-contractor workforce is ballooning thanks to the rise of on-demand apps. But after a honeymoon period, lawyers and politicians are now being forced to consider the real humans behind these virtual businesses.
These workers participate in what’s sometimes called the “gig economy.” They’re technically working for themselves, picking up gigs from an expanding digital marketplace where technology companies link them to customers to perform individual tasks.
They drive for Uber or Lyft and take you from point A to point B, contract with DoorDash or Postmates to bring you takeout, moonlight for Handy and come and clean your home, and even work “flex” jobs for Amazon to deliver packages to your doorstep in a matter of hours.
Most of the companies in the gig economy let workers set their own schedules, as well as allow them to accept as many or as few jobs as they want, or even take gigs from competing providers.
Conversely, these companies set wages that can be changed at a whim or they control whether the worker can receive tips.
Sometimes they decree, as is the case with Uber, that workers must maintain high customer approval ratings to avoid repercussions such as temporary deactivation.
Exactly who is responsible for protecting these workers’ rights, and determining what those labor rights should be, is an increasingly heated conundrum.