Regular employment has organized schedules and definitive timelines with strict reporting time, hours of service, and expected deliverables, as well as specified targets. On the contrary, gig employment is a self-regulated work environment, which is coordinated by an individual and a service provider, who is under contract, on a digital platform (Smith, 2016, p. 2). The main difference between the two concepts is that gig approach takes a freelance perspective unlike regular employment, which embraces operating from a particular working station. Businesses anchored on the traditional models are likely to experience challenges in their operation unless they adopt technology and information management systems, which would give them access to the global clientele.
Firstly, technological advancement in the areas of information management systems is changing the way interaction in the workplace is managed. The regular employment system has strict expectations based on the rate of work, productivity levels, and working shifts. The traditional setup has comparable expectations of wages, allowances, and other benefits either monetary or not. In addition, the gig strategy enables an individual to work from home or any place determined by the gig worker (Smith, 2016, p. 11). Hence, the gig employee is confronted with innovative systems when applying for a job compared to a traditional worker looking for placement.
Secondly, the traditional workers have to make several job applications, develop resumes, and attend various interviews; the gig worker is only required to register online, access, and apply for available and most interesting jobs in the digital platform. According to Smith (2016), the majority of the U.S. citizens exploit the opportunity provided by the gig platform to enhance their income (p. 9). However, the pay structures in gig employment occasionally disadvantage the employees compared to the traditional work environment. One in three digital gig workers has complained of not receiving their remuneration despite rendering their services (Smith, 2016, p. 14). Besides limited legal frameworks to pursue the gig employer, the traditional work environment has various conflicts resolution policies and laws protecting them.
In the case of the driver-partner working scenarios, Uber sets the rules of engagement without consulting them. The driver-partners are victims of the gig employment approach operated on the digital platform where the employer has all the rights overpayment procedure at the expense of actual service providers. For instance, the Uber customers pay their fair through an app using their credit card. Notably, Uber sets the rate of payment, receives the payment from the customers, directs the standards of the vehicles to be operated on the platform, allocates jobs to drivers, and fires them haphazardly (Rovenpor, Stickney, & Shea-Van Fossen, 2016, p. 7). Therefore, handling the driver-partner as an independent contractor is untenable in law given the level of influence and control of the business.
It is worth noting that autonomous contractors have control over their operations compared to the Uber partner-driver. Therefore, it is imperative to apply the same laws governing other sectors since the terms of work are similar. According to Rovenpor et al. (2016), different laws and policies in the legal system protect employees and employers from possible exploitation (p. 8). The autonomous freelancers have the obligation to pay medical insurance, social security, and income tax as both employer and employee. Thus, treating the Uber driver-partners as independent contractors disadvantages them through a broadened tax bracket. The National Labor and Relations Board (NLRB) and the Department of Labor (DOL) maintain that it would be difficult for the Uber driver-partners to gain an employee status (Rovenpor et al., 2016). According to NLRB and DOL, the conditions for such declaration are influenced by a determination to ascertain the extent to which the work performed was an employer’s business, whether preliminary qualifications are expected for the work, the levels of investment in the business, and the permanency of the contracts (Rovenpor et al., 2016). Although the Uber CEO states that the model assists people to work at their discretion, it exposes the systemic weakness of commitment to the pay structures adopted.
The operations of gig platform should be monitored with progressive regulations to safeguard the gig workers from exploitative employers, taking advantage of the weak regulatory infrastructure. Given that the workers on the gig platform choose their schedules, it is difficult to control the platform. The unregulated hours of services, the nature of the assignment, and unspecified investment make it difficult for gig employment setup to subscribe to guidelines similar to those controlling regular employment. The model is different from the regular engagement and should have a different approach to legislation and monitoring by the responsible department of trade and employment. Therefore, the variances are found in the systems of engagement, which occurs without physical contact, the timelines of works under the clientele’s discretion, and the payment system structured on the virtual platform.
Evidently, gig work is sufficiently distinct from regular employment and should be excluded from regulations. The services rendered are temporal in nature and the terms of engagement are designed to favor the gig employer. For instance, the employer only pays for services rendered upon conviction that they are handled well. The absence of standards to gauge whether the work meets the expected threshold for payment makes the sector highly volatile. Therefore, gig work is distinct from regular employment since no proof of professional qualification and experience are required for the job. The engagement relies on the ability to negotiate terms and conditions. The haphazard way of handling assignments and negotiating payment makes the gig platform exceptional from the traditional approaches. Given the uniqueness of its work perspectives, it should be excluded from legislation that supports traditional methods of employment.
Rovenpor, J. L., Stickney L. T., & Shea-Van Fossen, R. J. (2016). Uber and its driver-partners: Labor challenges in the on-demand transportation networking sector. Case Research Journal, 36(3), 1-23.
Smith, A. (2016, September 17). Gig work, online selling and home sharing. Pew Research Center, 1-17.