Employment in the Gig Economy
As the politicians debate the implications of the gig economy, they typically just talk about jobs. They lament that so many gig workers don’t have benefits and are being taken advantage of by those running the powerful digital platforms. As I have said here often, they seldom mention the professional gig economy workers, 91% of whom have self selected this career path. But perhaps the bigger oversight is that they fail to recognize the jobs that are being created serving the new needs of the gig economy and its workers.
Take a recent press release from ShiftPixy. http://www.shiftpixy.com This app is a way for
companies in need of shift workers to recruit contingent gig workers to fill their scheduling gaps. This means that a small business can use this app, rather than trying their luck at all the digital sites. what Kayak did for travel, it is doing for low-end contingent labor.
Employment Laws and the Gig Economy
Moreover, the Shift Pixy guys have paid attention to the employment law issues that have bedeviled some of the large talent platforms like Uber and Handy. ShiftPixy employs the gig workers on behalf of its clients. By employing them, it enables them to accrue enough part-time hours from various clients to qualify for benefits typically only accorded to full-time employees.
In case you are wondering, I don’t have an investment in Shiftpixy so this is not a commercial. It is recognition that someone has solved not just one but two key problem with the gig economy. First they just bit the bullet and made the employment call. Since the laws are murky ( another favorite subject of mine) they built an employment infrastructure that is easily accessible via an app that takes the employment risk away from their clients. “You want a shift worker to bag groceries, great, they would have to be an employee. Since you don’t want them to be your employee, we will handle that. ” Most of the digital platforms put the onus on the buyer to figure out the employment law issues, so ShftPixy took that off the table, making it safe for any size company to engage a gig worker. In the spirit of full disclosure I think that is especially brilliant idea, since I did the same thing 15 years ago, when I started Collabrus, a company designed to employ consultants when they need to be employed by nature of the work or as a risk management strategy.
ShiftPixy is solving another more intractable problem though, by creating a structure that consolidates part-time hours to enable benefits eligibility. It sounds straightforward, but it is actually a pretty complicated business model.
In the end, Shift Pixy is a small start-up with a little staff, but none the less, they are themselves a job creator. They have their own employees, but they will also be creating opportunities for various part-time workers to get additional shifts in a way that suits their lifestyle and financial needs.
So as the politicians lament the loss of traditional jobs, I say lets applaud the innovators who are creating the economic infrastructure to strengthen the new world of work.