Sorting out the gig economy

Employment standards must adapt to new types of employment from companies such as Uber and Airbnb
By Geoff Mason
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/27/2017

Over the last decade, the number of companies that comprise what is colloquially called the “gig economy” has grown tremendously. The gig economy is characterized by businesses that enter into short-term contracts with workers who are paid for “gigs” they perform. Uber, Airbnb, and Grubhub are each prominent examples of businesses that fall under this label and have enjoyed great success. But where do these workers and companies fall under employment standards legislation?

The rapid expansion of the gig economy is not surprising, given the numerous benefits it provides. Effectively, anyone with a smartphone and an Internet connection can find a job or develop a business.

However, the gig economy also has certain disadvantages that pose complex questions for lawmakers. Chief among these concerns is the fact that a majority of workers in the gig economy are classified as independent contractors, and thereby left without employment benefits and protections.