By Global News |
On this week’s episode of the Global News original podcast This is Why, Niki Reitmayer investigates just how reliant society has become on the gig economy and the appeal of working as an independent contractor. She speaks to numerous Uber drivers from cities around the world as well as human rights lawyer Geoff Mason.
What is the gig economy?
Over the past number of years, the rise of companies such as Uber, Airbnb and Doordash has created an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract independent workers for short-term engagements. This is also known as the gig economy.
Geoff Mason, an employment and human rights lawyer based in Vancouver, says that the gig economy allows many workers to obtain jobs easily, trying their hand at different positions and finding the right fit for them. But it also creates a decline in traditionally based employment positions, which is a concern.
“There is this element of risk and vulnerability for a lot of workers within the gig economy for a whole number of reasons. By the very nature of them being defined as independent contractors, you are taking on more risk. You are not being entitled to traditional-based employment protections.”
The way people work in society has changed throughout history, and society has been able to adapt to these transitions. But this new trend is bringing many new questions and uncertainty to the future of jobs in Canada.
Workers are finding themselves forced into these new gig positions for a number of reasons, particularly due to the decline of traditional jobs and advancements in technology that come with very little overhead.
But the biggest concern to employment lawyers is whether these independent contractors should be entitled to some form of employee benefits, says Mason.
“Independent contractors are looking more and more like employees. You’re getting more and more of an inequality in bargaining power; you’re getting more and more individuals who are feeling like they are forced to take on these positions.”
There are more opportunities for profit but also an increase in risk, says Mason.