By Daniel Matthews
Where do you stand on the gig economy debate? Given America’s economic picture, how we answer this question is extremely important.
Let’s look at the picture and the debate as it stands. According to TSheets Time Tracking, a startup highly interested in this subject, the number of gig workers stands to jump from 3.2 million “on-demand” workers in 2015 to 7.6 million in 2020. These workers stand to benefit from the following:
One group that has a big stake in this is graduates saddled with student loan debt. Defaulting on student loans can mean facing collections agents, lawsuits and a declining credit score. Furthermore, if you have a default on your record, you can’t work for a federal agency. State and local agencies often follow the same suit. If you already work for the government and default on a student loan, they garnish your wages, take your tax returns, withhold a portion of your Social Security benefits and more. This applies to government contractors, too.
American college graduates are crippled with over $1 trillion in debt. The gig economy offers what may seem like a solution, at least for now — it means plenty of available work toward meeting regular loan payments. For the student, it could mean picking up extra work on the side: flexible work allowing for school schedules and lessening debt. And, for the graduate who defaults on loans, gig economy jobs could replace the jobs you wouldn’t be able to get working for the government.
Dan Teran is the CEO and cofounder of office management company Managed by Q, one of the founding Good Work Movement members. Echoing Marco Rubio (or Rubio is echoing him), Teran says:
“The way we work in the United States is undergoing a fundamental shift, but our current social structures, programs and policies have not kept pace with the realities of our 21st-century workforce. As leaders in this space, we’re in position to help shape the future of work, and with that comes the responsibility to ensure the jobs we’re creating are good ones.”
In the absence of policies to ensure worker rights and ethical treatment, the Good Work Movement and its code say it’s the companies’ prerogative to reach out to workers. Managed by Q, for example, is offering a bonus program, base benefits including a 401(k) and stock options. The company is also “calling for household employers to commit to fair pay, clear expectations and paid time off for domestic workers.” There’s no guarantee that household employers will answer the call. But they are more likely to do so if Managed by Q expects it.
Proponents of regulation would have the type of voluntary commitment that Good Work Movement companies are making become the gig economy policy. But would that stifle the gig economy and slow the economic progress it’s facilitating? Would the gig economy be the gig economy anymore if the come-and-go atmosphere becomes a more traditional employment situation?
Whatever the implications of regulation, it’s clear we should strike a middle-ground. We want to preserve the innovation and options, and we want to maximize freedom and fair work, following the Good Work Movement’s example. Let’s talk about this. To tweet at the Good Work Movement, find them at #goodworkcode.
Image: Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, courtesy of Wikipedia