Over the last few years, the gig economy has exploded. Gig work provides a level of flexibility and freedom that a typical nine-to-five job doesn’t. For employers, hiring gig workers saves money and allows experts to be hired for specific projects rather than on a long-term basis. As the employment landscape continues to shift, this type of work is expected to become more popular. According to a study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, a majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027. 

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The gig economy has provided millions of people with employment and exposed them to new ways of doing business. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals turned to this type of work for additional or even primary income. According to a report published by Upwork, the number of non-temporary freelancers increased from 33.8% to 35% from 2020-2021. Post-pandemic, the ability to work remotely and set your own hours has become appealing to many and is partially responsible for fueling the development of the gig economy.

Gig workers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees which makes providing benefits difficult. While some states such as California, Massachusetts and Washington have made strides to provide benefits packages to gig workers, there hasn’t been any federal legislation to protect independent workers.

In July, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide gig workers with some legal protections while allowing businesses to still classify them as independent contractors. The proposed bill shows that labor laws are attempting to adjust with the evolving employment environment. 

Currently, there are not many ways that employers can provide benefits for contract workers. Some companies such as Uber and Etsy have partnered with companies and acted as brokers for their gig workers.

To find insurance outside of employers, contract workers can join a union to get on a group health plan. The union may have different levels of insurance provisions depending on if you freelance full time or part time. If you are currently working independently, it may be beneficial to work for a staffing agency. Working for a temporary agency can help freelancers find work in a variety of fields and they may also be able to provide workers with insurance options. Other insurance options for gig workers include searching for a plan under the Affordable Care Act or looking into short-term health insurance.

If you are a gig worker seeking affordable benefits, visit the Association for Entrepreneurship USA website at afeusa.org to learn more about your options.

Author: Jack Diehl, the president of the Association for Entrepreneurship USA, graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering. His initial 10-year career included new factory set-up of Maverick missile seeker head assemblies and project engineering & procurement for Hughes Aircraft Missile Systems Group. After leaving Hughes, Jack developed an auto repair operation of 9 different auto repair centers. He was responsible for initial site selections, property development, business financing, staffing, quality control and other necessary aspects of owning and operating a successful small business for over 20 years. Originally from a rural farming community in upstate New York, Jack now lives in Tucson, AZ. His interests include domestic and international travel, motor sports and jazz music. For more information, please visit the AFEUSA website: afeusa.org