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Do Gig Workers Want to be Employees?

The quick answer to the title question is most gig workers don’t want to be employed in a traditional job.  But some do.

This topic has come up because last week a California judge ruled that Proposition 22, a ballot measure passed in last November’s elections that allowed rideshare and delivery companies to treat their drivers as independent workers was unconstitutional.

Labor groups and others opposed to Prop 22 hailed the verdict as a major victory for gig workers.

But surveys and studies have pretty much universally shown that most independent workers (self-employed, independent contractors, freelancers, etc.), including most rideshare drivers, are satisfied with gig work and prefer being gig workers instead of traditional employees.

Data from the Aspen Institute’s Gig Economy Data Hub illustrates this.

They point out that, based on a review of many studies, “most gig workers report being satisfied by their work arrangements” and “tend to say they pursue non-standard work out of choice rather than out of necessity.”

The studies they’ve reviewed also point out that most gig workers report preferring gig work over having a traditional job.

The same holds for rideshare and delivery drivers and most California rideshare drivers voted in favor of Prop 22.

Having said that, gig workers in general and rideshare drivers in particular are not monolithic in their preferences.

A sizeable minority of gig workers report they would prefer a traditional job.

And in the case of rideshare drivers, a slight majority of rideshare drivers who work full-time report wanting to be employees.

However, a sizeable majority of part-time rideshare drivers want to remain independent contractors.

As the Aspen Institute points out, “the experiences of gig workers are polarized.” By this, they mean some gig workers like and benefit from gig work, while others don’t.

So was the court decision a big victory for gig workers? No. It was a potential victory for some gig workers and a potential loss for others.

We say “potential” because the companies said they would appeal, which means Prop 22 stays in place as the legal fight continues.


This article was originally published here.

Steve King

Steve King is an advisory board member of JEM and a founding partner of Emergent Research where he leads the firm’s ongoing research identifying, analyzing and forecasting the global trends and shifts impacting consumers, small businesses, the gig economy, independent workers and Web 3.0’s role in future of work. Steve enjoys wide industry recognition as an expert on the future of work. He is an active public speaker and has written for the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, U.S. News and World Report, Venture Beat, Wired and other publications.

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