gig economy – noun (singular)
When it comes to working in the gig economy, [it] is clear young people aren't usually in it by choice.
A blind spot in the pensions system needs to be tackled to help gig economy workers boost their retirement savings.
A gig economy is generally understood to be one in which very large numbers of people are self-employed, doing freelance work or working on short-term contracts rather than in permanent jobs. There is no figure for the proportion of people working in this way that is needed to define an economy as a gig economy, but there is a consensus that this is what is happening in many developed economies around the world. The process is being driven both by the decline in jobs for life in the public and private sectors and the rise of a culture where everything from a taxi to a meal is expected to be available almost instantly with the tap of an app.
Firms that are benefiting (hugely) from the gig economy say that it suits many people to work in this way and that everyone wins. Those at the sharp end complain of long hours, low pay, punitive contracts and a lack of any form of social or employment security. In a number of recent court cases groups of workers have taken companies to court in an attempt to prove that those who work for them are not self-employed contractors but employees and thus entitled to the same rights and benefits as other employees.
The word gig has been used for many decades to refer to a job, especially a temporary one. It was linked up with economy around the time of the financial crisis to describe what is essentially a new economic phenomenon.