Frequently asked questions

Your questions answered

What is a gig worker?

A gig economy worker is someone who earns a living from paid work in a non-traditional employment arrangement. Gig workers are sometimes called ‘the contingent workforce’. They’re independent workers who aren’t classified as employees and often work in a flexible and reactive way, depending on demand for their services.

Gig workers typically work outside the protections, benefits and security of traditional employment. They may be paid by the day, by the hour or per task. The gig economy workforce includes agency staff, temps, contractors and freelancers working in professional settings. While these types of gig workers may not have job security and employment protection, so they may command a higher daily or hourly rate than a permanent employee.

There are advantages to this kind of work for some gig economy workers. It may suit them to have complete autonomy, choosing when and whether to work. They may prefer to combine several gig jobs, to work seasonally or to flex their working hours every day or week, depending on personal circumstances.

Different types of gig workers frequently form part of a blended workforce for employers. Flexible, short-term and project-based staffing allows organizations to respond to customer and market demand in an agile way. Gig economy workers can work alongside core employees to provide specialist services or extra resources. Responsible employers make sure their gig economy workforce members are paid fairly and treated with respect, so they can operate effectively as valued team members.

Modern HR and People management practices embrace gig workers as part of an organization’s overall workforce. Leaders recognize that they need to engage these workers just as much as permanent employees, if they’re to be productive and support the organization’s customer service and brand values.

Digital platforms have expanded gig economy work in professional sectors. Freelancer sites like People per Hour and Upwork allow customers to post briefs for tasks, inviting independent workers to quote and bid competitively. These global platforms allow gig economy workers from many countries to access jobs that can be delivered online.

Discover how 500+ HR leaders are embracing the HR to People transformation in the digital world of work by exploring our research report. Back to top