Gig work is an activity in which people earn income providing on demand work, often through the use of digital platforms such as mobile applications. This type of work is an increasingly valuable component of the U.S. economy, and a Federal Reserve report states that about 16 percent of people in the country earn wages from gig work. Unfortunately, gig workers face serious issues on the job.
Citing these issues, the Federal Trade Commission recently announced that the agency plans to crack down on companies that take advantage of gig workers or violate their rights in certain ways.
One of the most common issues gig workers confront is misclassification. This happens when employers classify gig workers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid fulfilling their responsibilities regarding:
- Overtime pay
- Tax payments
- Employment benefits
- Workers’ compensation benefits
Gig work can be a gray area where it is not always clear whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee. However, regardless of whether the misclassification is intentional or not, it still violates gig workers’ rights and can land employers in legal and financial hot water.
Misrepresentation of hours and scheduling
One of the primary reasons people seek gig work is because they want a flexible work schedule they can control. Learning that the gig isn’t what the employer promised can be frustrating. In more egregious cases, it can violate gig workers’ rights.
For instance, employers may be more controlling of gig worker’s schedules than they initially let on, or they may promise a certain number of hours of work but ultimately fail to deliver on that promise.
Unfair restrictions on gig workers
Another attractive component of gig work is that workers have the freedom to work for other companies to supplement their income. For example, many drivers for ride share apps like Lyft and Uber work for both companies at the same time.
If an employer unfairly restricts gig workers from working for other companies, they could cause financial issues for workers and violate their rights.
Certain industries rely on gig workers. If the companies in these industries get together and agree to fix wages and refrain from competing with each other to hire people, they could be violating workers’ rights.
These unfair and unlawful practices harm gig workers in big and small ways. Hopefully, the FTC’s new policy to crack down on these violations will motivate employers to revisit problematic policies and make the appropriate changes.
Unfortunately, violations will still happen. When they do, gig workers concerned about a business violating their rights should speak with an attorney about their options.