With the economic landscape changing to include more and more gig workers, concerns over on-the-job injuries have begun to arise. Gig economy workers do not typically get workers’ compensation from the companies they work for. This can put a big financial burden on these workers since they, instead of the employer, are responsible for covering the entire cost of their medical care. It’s also important to note that some of these jobs, including those that involve driving, are considered among the most hazardous ones in the U.S., according to Quartz. This begs the question: should companies start offering this coverage to gig economy workers?
Employee vs. Independent Contractor
People who work in “on demand” jobs, or gig economy jobs, are not considered company employees. Instead, they are considered independent contractors. As contractors, they are not likely to receive benefits and coverage that companies generally offer their full-time and part-time employees. Such benefits would include workers’ comp and health insurance. Offering contractors compensation for injuries on the job would require companies to pay premiums in addition to the expense of covering regular employees. Rather than take on this cost, many companies do not make workers’ comp available to contractors. When contractors are injured on the job, they are forced to pay for hospital expenses and other medical care on their own. When contractors are unable to pay, these costs are passed on to the general public.
Reasons to Offer Workers’ Comp
One of the main arguments in favor of offering workers’ comp to gig economy workers is that employees who perform similar types of work, like those who work for construction companies, do receive this coverage. Other workers who are not technically considered employees, such as cab drivers, are able to receive workers’ comp thanks to state agency regulations. Possible solutions to this problem include taking a different approach to making workers’ comp available to gig economy workers that is similar to how the Affordable Care Act has made health coverage available to contractors. Another possible solution would be to make contractors responsible for covering some of the expenses and have the contracting companies cover the rest, including workers’ comp. Since gig economy workers are allowed to unionize, organizing and bargaining for coverage could present another potential solution.