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What is the Gig Economy?


Legalese recently launched a service offering tailored to the Gig Economy. Let’s discuss exactly what that entails and share some tips on how best to participate. When you think of the Gig Economy you most likely go straight to companies like Uber or Airbnb. However, before we jump the gun here and begin listing companies, let’s take some time to understand the basics.

The Basics:

The Gig Economy is very often referred to as a “free market”. This is due to the fact that online platforms or applications have provided mechanisms for individuals to freely participate in the associated online platform and/or application. This has led to, for example, an entire workforce that is self-employed and a litany of independent contractors. It has also given consumers greater access to services at more affordable pricing than before.

“Gig Economy” Namesake:

Fun fact: Gig Economy got its name from the music/entertainment industry. Historically, musicians and comedians would refer to their jobs an individual “gig”. Traditionally a worker is paid in terms of their employment. This traditional relationship results in employment consequences which have their own legal framework. However, in the Gig Economy market, workers are being paid for individual gigs (i.e., a single car journey, temporary placement, a cleaning job, etc.).

Regulating the Relationship:

So how do we best regulate these interactions? Some may assume that the platforms facilitating these relationships will enforce terms upon the parties involved. However, it is often the case that the players in the Gig Economy simply bind themselves to the terms of the platform without having clear terms between each other. As with all relationships, communication is key! Even with the “temporary” gigs that make up the Gig Economy, communication that clearly sets out the intended expectations, payment terms, obligations and responsibilities of the parties as well as the consequences of breach should be agreed upon in writing. It is not sufficient to rely on the terms of these platforms to adequately regulate the relationship of the parties involved.

Legal Assistance:

Whether you are the user accessing the Gig Economy market or you are intending to build a business in the Gig Economy, it is best to do so with the assistance of a legal professional. The associated terms and agreements can be overly cumbersome and can have multiple applicable legislations.  Do yourself a favor and approach a legal professional to provide you with a better understanding of what you are signing up to or to assist you in creating tailor made terms for your business. There is plenty of opportunity to make money and grow your business in the Gig Economy if you navigate this without naivety and take full advantage of this growing market.  

Christian Tabor-Raeside – 5 August 2021

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