The gig economy and labor rights

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a report studying freelancers published by consulting firm Mackenzie said that the gig economy has done away with workers’ rights achieved through decades of activism and legislation. Mackenzie concluded that freelancers face labor conditions similar to those of workers before the Industrial Revolution.

The advantage for employers is clear, as working with freelancers offers companies managerial flexibility. They pay for the services of a person as if that person were an entire company, without any obligation to provide social benefits or fulfill labor laws. It turns the employer–employee relationship into a customer–supplier one, which can be very unequal.

A report by the Upwork and Freelancers Union forecasts that by 2027, some 50% of all U.S. workers will be freelancers. Mackenzie estimates that the current proportion is around 20-30%, which includes people who supplement their income through freelance work.

A growing number of countries have started addressing the issue of how labor laws apply to freelancers. For instance, nineteen European Union countries offer them unemployment pay.

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