Side hustles or temp work? The rise and rise of the gig economy – HRD (Louis White | March 2022)

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It’s the latest trend in an evolving workforce where individuals seek employment on their own terms. The gig economy is booming and it is here to stay. A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments. The term “gig” is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time. Traditionally, the term was used by musicians to define a performance engagement.

The growth of gig work during the last few years has been extraordinary.  During the height of the pandemic, it was a way to work and earn, while so much of the world was shut down.  As life lurched back to the workplace, it has reflected the desire of some to continue working from home and independence.  Globally, governments have introduced measures to legislate gig work – including moves in Australia by the new Australian government.  For the non-disabled such moves are sensible, because they are measures to ensure safe work and fair wages for people who are really employees but unscrupulous employers are calling freelancers.  For some Australians with disabilities, the flexibility of gig work is the only way we can work. Until laws catch up with that, we should be aware of what a salaried worker would be paid to do what we do and that multiple gigs with the same entity might not be possible.

Examples of gig workers include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.

“The online gig worker ecosystem has grown significantly over the past few years,” Matt Barrie, CEO at Freealancer.com, told HRD. “The shift towards remote working means organisations are taking advantage of the abundance of gig workers and growing their workforce through on-demand freelancers. Employers risk being left behind in a paradigm that is quickly becoming obsolete.

“The idea that businesses, costs and performance must all grow linearly is no longer sustainable. We’re seeing global enterprises adopt a model towards freelancing in an effort to grow their business without adding additional headcount or office locations. Those who miss this opportunity may put themselves at a disadvantage.”

According to the Actuaries Institute, the Australian gig economy figure of $6.3 billion was a nine-fold rise between 2015-2019, with a gain of 32 per cent in 2019 alone. The Actuaries Institute estimates as many as 250,000 workers may be involved with private transport and meal delivery leading the way with other sectors to follow.

Barrie believes the role of human resources will need to change to accommodate gig workers instead of full-time employees into companies.

“Unlike the traditional recruitment process, human resources won’t be required to be involved in every hire or onboarding process,” Barrie added. “Instead, the human resources department will need to take the lead and set the best practice for gig worker recruitment and how to properly manage a freelancer.

The growth of gig work during the last few years has been extraordinary.  During the height of the pandemic, it was a way to work and earn, while so much of the world was shut down.  As life lurched back to the workplace, it has reflected the desire of some to continue working from home and independence.  Globally, governments have introduced measures to legislate gig work - including moves in Australia by the new Australian government.  For the non-disabled such moves are sensible, because they are measures to ensure safe work and fair wages for people who are really employees but unscrupulous employers are calling freelancers.  For some Australians with disabilities, the flexibility of gig work is the only way we can work. Until laws catch up with that, we should be aware of what a salaried worker would be paid to do what we do and that multiple gigs with the same entity might not be possible.

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