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Is Gig Economy Solving Unemployment Problems?

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The term “gig economy” is often used to describe a practice working where individuals use a digital platform supplied by company in order to find short-term jobs. It can be accessed through mobile apps or internet websites by using mobile phones and computers. In general, gig economy has not created new jobs, professions or occupations, however it has introduced new forms of pre-existing jobs.

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Accordingly, it is hard to define the role gig economy in society when there are exists mixed standpoints regards it. While some people see gig economy as creating new forms of flexible works with various choices, others see it as more exploitative and less secure type of work. It is observed that gig economy provides multiple advantages such as high independence, flexibility of time and great variety of works. Even though gig economy offers possible solutions to solve unemployment problems, there are some sectors where it is basically a new way of exploiting people through technology. The first sector where the features of exploiting people can be seen is online taxi driving companies. There are many types of online taxi driving platforms all over the world; however Uber will be mainly discussed in this paper. The working process of online taxi services can be shortly explained in this way. At the first, passengers should insert address of their destination and programs such as Uber with the help of GPS define location of clients via mobile applications or websites. Consequently, the program sends drivers of company closest to location and controls until the passengers were delivered to their destination.

The capitalist or owners of online taxi companies in most situations just provide with platforms which were developed by computer programmers. Hence, they earn from each order by cutting the drivers wages and in many cases they cut by half. It is believed that this is the form of unfair distribution of money due to several reasons. Firstly, in order to become a driver of Uber Company you supposed to have your own car otherwise you are not able to work to this company. Additionally, you have to get taxi driving license from local authority which costs high in the beginning of work time. Secondly, while working to the Uber Company you are expected to pay for your own maintains and gas. Thereafter, if you had accident during working hours you would recover all your damages owing to lack of insurance card. Thirdly, if order was cancelled either by driver or passenger that has already been taken, both of them would be fined. After considering all outlined drawbacks of online taxi services it can be said that in some sectors of gig economy there are has signs of exploitation of employees. Another sector where the evidence for exploitation of workers can be seen is courier companies.

These types of gig economy platforms are mainly engaged in delivering goods. Additionally, these services also provide food delivering to workplace and home because some restaurants and fast-food cafes do not have their own delivery services. Particularly, their delivery services can be done with the help of bicycle, motorbike and van. Furthermore, employees of such a gig jobs have to provide themselves with required equipment such a vehicle and uniform. It can be seen that the working method and issues facing by gig courier companies is almost similar to online taxi-driving companies. They have same problems such as maintaining themselves with daily needs during a worktime. For instance, fuel for cars and lack of insurance card when there are problems with vehicle such as car incidents. These issues are arising due to the fact that courier drivers are considered to be self-employed and delivery companies are their customers. In addition, companies do not provide health insurances (medical insurance) or medical checkups with specialists. The causes of this problem, in some cases can lead to death situations.

Accordingly, clear example of this can be seen in the case of DBD, which is a one of the famous courier gig company in UK. One self-employer of this company has died because he has missed required medical check-ups several times. The reason for this can be explained in terms of other issue. The drivers are under pressure to complete their rounds and in DBD Company they are fined for 150 pounds when the order was not covered due to the date. Another particular issue in this type of gig economy is the unpredicted heavy traffic. The platforms do not accept orders close to the drivers working area rather in order to deliver goods to their destination they have to drive long miles.

Additionally, their wages can be deducted if goods were damaged. Thus, it can be observed that courier gig companies are exploiting peoples through their unregulated working regimes. On the other hand, gig economy created wide range of opportunities and increased labor market. Overall, although the apparent advantages of working in the gig economy varied, the ability to work flexibly, and the control this afforded individuals, was a commonly-cited perception. Interviewees spoke positively about being able to set their own working hours, and decide their own schedules and working arrangements in general, which is generally consistent with being self-employed. Many described this as ‘being their own boss’, who was viewed positively, with interviewees valuing the freedom that this entailed.

For example, one interviewee, working as a delivery worker, liked the fact ‘you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, telling you what to do’, and describing this as ‘liberating’. Some also mentioned that an added benefit was that they no longer had to commute to work, which saved them valuable time. Others said that they enjoyed having the choice over whether or not they accepted work, rather than being compelled to do whatever their boss might tell them to do. Some expressed satisfaction that they were not exposed to the office politics that inevitably accompany office-based employment. For some, the added flexibility that working in the gig economy afforded them took on further meaning, as it allowed them to fit their work around other commitments such as university, as well as other personal interests and activities. This tended to be the case for those engaged in occupations such as delivery and taxi work, routine office administration and other relatively low-skilled jobs such as cleaning and dog walking.

For several individuals, predominantly women, it allowed them to remain in the labor market without missing out on spending time with their children, as they were able to fit their work around tasks such as the school run. This was particularly beneficial during school holidays, with one interviewee commenting that paying for childcare during this time was one of the biggest expenses for most parents. Others claimed that being able to always be there for her children whilst still being able to work. This tended to be the case across sectors and occupations, although those doing routine office administrative tasks online were particularly represented here. Taking into consideration all above mentioned ideas, it can be concluded that gig economy has both positive and negative sides.

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