The term ‘gig economy’ has quickly become one of the latest buzzwords, slung around in news articles and morning talk shows, and yet, this concept is nothing new. Workers have been taking on on-demand or freelance jobs for centuries, but it’s only now that this has grown to the extent that it’s changing the very nature of the workforce.
The gig economy refers to a labour market characterised by freelance, flexible on-demand work: a market where workers are paid for each ‘gig’ they do, rather than receiving a regular salary for a nine-to-five position. This new trend in jobs has been partly led by the rise of digital and the changing needs of businesses.
South Africa’s rates of freelancing work have risen, with temporary employment going from 2.6 million in 2017 to 3.9 million in 2018. In the UK, 15.6% of the workforce make up the gig economy, while in the USA that figure is at 34%. Many businesses have taken note of the trend, and implemented changes to take advantage of this new development or have taken steps to incite workers to stay on permanently, with measures including the use of temporary workers and implementing more flexible workspaces for employees.
South Africa’s unemployment challenges have made this style of work attractive to many job seekers. However, the reality is that South African labour laws have not been adapted to accommodate gig economy jobs, leaving gig workers vulnerable and open to exploitation. Workers are also not afforded the various benefits associated with permanent employment. This lack of security is a massive disadvantage for workers hoping to enter into this type of career and should be a serious consideration for all workers. The Labour Relations Act will need to be amended before South Africa will see real changes in how these workers are treated.
Before jumping into gig-work, job seekers must ensure that they understand the realities of the market and investigate the demand for their services.
Professional Sourcing is a top-tier South African-based recruitment agency operating internationally, IPM accredited, LEVEL 2 BEE RATED and 51% Black Owned.
Our agency specialises in professional placements (senior and specialist talent) and exclusive skills recruitment to a wide range of industries, including JSE’s top 100 companies, SMEs and the Public Sector.
Our agency specialises in professional placements (senior and specialist talent) and exclusive skills recruitment to a wide range of industries, including JSE’s top 100 companies, SMEs and the Public Sector. -- Patricia Koekemoer