How are Gig Workers Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Posted: TecHR Series, April 14th 2020

The economic consequences of COVID-19 are far-reaching as all companies take precautions with budget cuts and layoffs. One group that has been vastly affected by the coronavirus outbreak are gig workers, a growing global community of workers who are self-employed.

According to a survey made by AppJobs in March and answered by over 1400 gig workers from 58 countries, over 50% of gig workers have lost their jobs in February and March. With only 30% of workers claiming to have enough savings to live on, the majority of gig workers face financial difficulties in the months to come.

Most gig workers are or had been employed in the restaurant, tourism, cleaning, customer service, rideshare and transportation industries, which are among the most negatively affected. At the same time, high increase in demand for gig workers is visible within delivery and online freelancing due to self-isolation. According to AppJobs Institute, the number of people searching for delivery jobs in the US and UK has increased by over 150%.

Gig workers say that they are forced to make a decision between losing their source of income and risking infecting themselves and their families with the virus. The current state of the job market is of no help: as more industries shut down, gig workers give up on finding alternative ways of making money to replace their gig jobs.

75% of the gig workers AppJobs surveyed claim that the gig companies they work for have been of no help in this time of crisis. Gig workers need more help now than ever. They feel unprotected, vulnerable and overlooked. Many companies bulk-send hygiene tips to workers on their apps and recommend DIY measures to self-isolate while working, but this is not the support gig workers are looking for. Gig workers expect support from both gig companies and the government.

They want financial help, paid sick days, insurance, tax reduction and stimulus checks so that they don’t have to expose themselves to the virus because they cannot afford to stop working. Consequently, decision-makers across the world should now ask themselves about where do we go next in order to stimulate this growing part of the world economy. In addition, once the dust has settled, we’ll need to consider how we can shape the Future of Work to offer flexibility and security to those involved.