- Online delivery service Postmates announced new benefits for its gig workers that includes free occupational accident insurance, health care options and free access to online college courses and professional certifications.
- The company said the benefits are "a downpayment [sic] on a bigger vision for the future of our company and the entire gig economy" in a statement.
- Back in July, Postmates co-founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann expressed his support for "a comprehensive approach" to gig workers that removed the confusion about proper classification and "[empowered] gig workers without taking away their flexibility or ability to innovate" in a CNN opinion piece.
Over the past few years, the question of whether workers who provide services for gig platforms should be considered employees or independent contractors has been hotly debated. Uber, having faced numerous challenges to its contention that its drivers are independent contractors, has become a public face of the issue.
The National Labor Relations Board has concluded that Uber drivers have no protections under the National Labor Relations Act, and both Uber and Lyft have asked California to exempt them from legislation that would require them to treat their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.
While gig workers make up one-fifth of the workplace (or more) at a number of companies polled in a recent survey, some research has suggested that the gig economy is contracting rather than expanding. Workers were more likely to be in standard jobs in 2017 than in 2005, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). In 2005, 10.9% of workers were in nonstandard jobs, compared to 10.1% in 2017, EPI concluded.
Nonetheless, many employers prefer to use independent contractors as a way to stay flexible in a shifting economy. Other employers use contractors for special projects to streamline management and to prevent overburdening full-timers.