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Study Reveals the Pros and Cons of the Gig Economy

BY Lee Craig
Health & Safety

The HSE has published new research on the risks and benefits of the ‘gig’ economy. RR1143: Understanding the health & safety implications of the gig economy, is a response to the rise in self-employment, independent contracting and access to the labour market via online platforms.

The document includes a definition of the gig economy, ‘characterised by short-term, informal working relationships, where work is generally on-demand, obtained via an online platform and delivered (and paid for) on a task-by-task basis’. An estimated 2.8 million workers are currently employed in the gig economy.

Research found that the workforce is dominated by the under 35 age group of so-called ‘Millenials’ (24-34 years) and ‘Generation Z’ (Under 22 years). The HSE is concerned that the ‘gig’ business model may ‘trap’ workers in insecure jobs and remove supportive management relationships, with negative implications for the health of the workers.

Key findings:

  • Mental health issues linked to time pressures, lack of sick pay protection, lack of job security, lack of control within job role and lack of working time controls.
  • Lack of health surveillance and occupational health care
  • Fatigue caused by insufficient breaks, long working hours and poor sleep quality.
  • Lack of safety induction and training.
  • Higher potential for accidents due to the above.

The research found no evidence of new or previously unknown health & safety risks.

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