Yet the gig economy can be an employment lifeline for those with poor English language skills or professional networks. It also offers a level of flexibility that would make any full-time worker envious.
More on the gig economy from the July/August 2023 cover story:
Approximately 4.4 million UK gig workers every week deliver us delicious food when we’re tired (or hungover), offer a ride when there are no taxis to hail and have often seen us at our worst when picking up a parcel in our pyjamas.
Gig workers keep our fast-paced lifestyles going. And it would be hypocritical to lambast poor working practices of gig economy employers while enjoying the benefits of their services.
There have been plenty of attempts to define the status of gig workers, but this is leading to a complex mix of case law conclusions with no conclusive guidance.
I would recommend we follow in the footsteps of our European neighbours and push for government-backed legislation around gig worker protections and employment status.
As HR knows well, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to employment, and ignoring the gig worker model means ignoring a potential fresh approach to the job market.
There are many flaws in the current system and as insecure work plights our economy, I will always argue for stronger job protections and benefits for all.
But by turning our nose up at the gig economy model, we are also dismissing the millions of workers who help make our day to day lives that little bit easier.
I’d like to see a more mature conversation taking place on this topic, rather than HR simply labelling it as ‘bad practice’. Let’s try to create an evidence-based dialogue which could lead to a more ethical and equitable gig economy that works for all.
Jo Gallacher is editor of HR magazine