Driver

Uber drivers are part of the 'gig economy'. PICTURE: Dan Gold/Unsplash

It's known as the 'gig economy', a term used to explain the phenomena by which workers are employed, no longer as permanent or even casual workers on an hourly rate, but hired instead on a task-by-task basis whether that be in what was traditionally seen as blue or white collar sectors or within service industries. Experts have attributed the rise of the gig economy to a range of factors - from the increasing digitisation of society which has led to the rise of platforms like Uber, Expert360 and Airtasker through to growing demands for efficiency in workplaces and even the mind-set of the milennial generation when it comes to work - and while it's only estimated to account for a tiny percentage of the economy in countries like Australia, there are those who believe that proportion is likely to rise substantially in coming years (although experts say suggestions it could replace traditional employment models have been "greatly exaggerated"). While many may have a negative view of the concept particularly given ongoing concerns over workers' rights such as sick pay and minimum wages (a recent survey reportedly showed 61 per cent of Australians had concerns over the way the gig economy is regulated), others cite the freedom and flexibility it offers as key benefits, giving the worker more control over things such as when and where they work (ironically, while millenials are the demographic said to be most affected by the gig economy, they're also the ones who use its services the most). One recent US survey, for example, showed that the top reasons for people entering the gig economy included 'making extra money on the side', 'balancing career and family needs' and 'having autonomy and control' while the biggest challenges identified included having no medical, dental or disability benefits, not being paid when sick and 'insufficient income'. With legislatures still coming to terms with what the gig economy means for workers, in workers themselves have in some cases taken matters into their own hands and formed groups with the aim of ensuring they're treated fairly. There's no doubt that the rise of the 'gig economy' is, for some at least, changing the way we view work in the short-term. How it will shape jobs in the long-term remains to be seen.