The Gig Economy

What is the 'gig economy' and how large is it? The gig economy is defined as “a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs”.

Partner Andrew Bryan comments on a new report from the National Centre for Social Research which has revealed that 4.4% of the population of Great Britain worked in the gig economy in the last 12 months, amounting to some 2.8 million people.

The report, entitled “The characteristics of those in the gig economy” was commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The research found that those working in the gig economy are likely to be young (56% of those working in it are 18-34) and living in rented accommodation (37%, as opposed to 28% of the wider population). Levels of education among gig economy workers are broadly similar to those in the rest of the population, with 37% of workers in the sector having degrees.

London is a real hub of this kind of employment; 24% of those who work in the gig economy are based there, which is significantly higher than London’s share of the population overall.

Working for courier services was the most common kind of work carried out by workers in the sector (42%), compared to 28% who worked in transport services and 21% who worked in food delivery. The single most commonly mentioned platform/brand was Uber.

Money earned in the gig economy is, for most people involved, only a small part of their overall income. Indeed, for around two thirds of people, it amounted to less than 5% of what they had earned in the last 12 months. The median wage earned over that period was around £375.

However, 13% of gig economy workers did earn more than £10,000 a year from the sector, and 42% felt that money earned in this way was important to their quality of living. Interestingly, it was these people who were most likely to be happy with the conditions they were working in. Of those who viewed the gig economy as important to their standard of living, 74% were satisfied with their overall experience, as opposed to just 48% of those who felt that income from this source was not that important.

Regardless of conditions, it seems that the gig economy won’t be going anywhere anytime soon; 41% of the survey respondents said that they will definitely be continuing to work in the sector during the next 12 months.

If you would like assistance in relation to an employment matter, call Andrew on 02392 820747 for further information.

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