For many people, nothing sounds more attractive than earning a living while making their own hours. The modern gig economy is making this an increasingly possible reality — but at what cost?
Despite the freedom afforded by the gig economy, it’s important to understand the problems that come along with it. The workforce has been subjected to a new set of dangers because of the freelance work climate.
Harder Work for Less Pay
For nearly the past 40 years, there has been an increase in both national productivity and federal minimum wage. Since the beginning of the gig economy, the rise in minimum wage has mysteriously tapered.
People across the workforce are so enthralled with work-at-home opportunities that the negative aspects of their respective gigs become clouded. For example, freelance web developers often work longer hours for less pay than their corporate counterparts. Potential income in the gig economy is not protected by the regulations of the traditional work world.
Worse yet, gig companies like Uber and Lyft can be just as demanding as bosses in a traditional setting. These companies are notorious for marketing campaigns that showcase well-paid individuals driving for the services full time. After expenses are taken into account, these drivers’ salaries are anyone’s guess.
Deceptively Dangerous Work
Uber and Lyft have done their best to make driving seem like a fun and rewarding career. As a result, thousands of young and inexperienced drivers are flooding the roads trying to make a dollar.
The gig economy comes with a gruesome dark side that is often swept under the rug. Inexperienced drivers are making the roads less safe to drive. Drunk and unruly passengers are attacking their drivers. These situations are liable to cause financial, physical and emotional damage. “Between car accidents and attacks on drivers, you can’t stop hearing about Uber and Lyft in the news,” said Attorney Robert May. Also, Uber and Lyft’s roles in these situations are ambiguous. Don’t count on them to compensate damages in the way a traditional employer might.
In some cases, the freedom of the gig economy is simply too good to be true. Though an individual can find gigs outside of the traditional workforce, with what consistency will gigs be available? There are sure to be periods of time that freelancers are entirely out of work.
As of right now, benefits packages for freelancers are also unreliable. Various freelancers’ unions are beginning to emerge across the country, but their validity is yet to be determined. As with everything else in the gig economy, benefits are not guaranteed.
The nature of services like Uber and Lyft contributes greatly to the unreliability of the gig economy. These companies are allowed to — and frequently do — change parts of their policies that directly impact the potential earnings of those working for them. These changes can be made overnight and can flip your life upside down if you’ve put all your eggs in one basket.
Overall, many people romanticize the gig economy and fail to acknowledge the many dangers that come along with it. Though it might be a good way to earn additional cash, the gig economy is a risky choice as a primary source of income.