I saw a blog post today from DCR Workforce announcing that there will finally be a "reckoning " of the gig economy. http://blog.dcrworkforce.com/finally-official-reckoning-gig-economy Like most people who question the value of the gig economy, the author's concerns were about the lack of a safety net for the workers. There was also apparent relief that perhaps, in this reckoning, we would also "weed out cases where employees are being misclassified as independent contractors by businesses."
I too think it would be valuable to have such an accounting for what is becoming an ever-growing proportion of the labor force. I too recognize that may of these workers are not doing gigs by choice but out of necessity.
That said,though, so many pundits and economists often overlook the fact that for so many the further maturation of this marketplace is not pernicious but empowering. Many professionals have self selected into this gig economy labor force, because they can; they have the expertise that will command a market rate that will support their lifestyle. And now, with the increasing sophistication of search algorithms, the ability to parlay that expertise to the market place is so much more efficient.
It is not a free market, though, because legal obstacles especially in employment law around independent contractors and employees frustrate the free flow of talent. Yes, some players may inappropriately classify workers, but the flip side is true as well. Many companies are so worried about the employee independent contractor issue, that they refuse to engage anyone who is paid on a 1099, the tax form used to report non wage income. It is not illegal to work on a 1099 basis, yet many consultants have been forced to change the way they do business to deal with this heightened risk profile. I should know, in 1992, I started a firm, Collabrus, to employ consultants for the duration of a consulting project, if the nature of the work or a risk averse client required it. Similarly, many senior level consultants are forced to work through master vendor arrangements, where they become the employee of someone in order to complete a consulting project.
So the downside that many never seem to mention, for what is albeit the upper end of the gig economy labor pool, are the marketplace inefficiencies that institutionalize risk and increase costs to practitioners who are forced to operate differently with different clients.
So my question is this -- when the reckoning of the gig economy is done, will they also identify those workers who were misclassified as a temporary employee, when they could have operated as a 1099? It seems only fair.