In a piece for The Atlantic, Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union—a nonprofit that connects freelancers to group-rate benefits, resources, community, and political action—talks about the micro-gig economy. Apps and websites like TaskRabbit and Fiverr allow users to either post quick jobs they want people to do, or sign up to do certain tasks for small amounts of money.
Like freelancing, this type of work allows workers to pick and choose what they want to do and determine how much time they want to spend working. However, there are drawbacks to adding up small paychecks, including lack of security, complicated billing and tax procedures, and lack of vacation or sick days.
"As we rush forward into this hyper-efficient economy, we’re actually sliding back to certain aspects of the 19th century, where workers had few rights and no protections."
"Back then, it was common practice to have 12- and 14-hour days, no lunch breaks, no sick days, no disability insurance, and no recourse if an employer reneged on pay. In short, no safety net."
"In the micro-gig economy, there might be fewer abusive managers, better working conditions, and more autonomy than turn-of-the-century industrial workers suffered through. But the micro-gig economy also represents a U-Turn in labor, where many people are once again working without a net –and taking on a level of risk not seen in more than 100 years."
At the same time, there are pros for people who enjoy being their own bosses, Horowitz says, and these startups that use workers for short-term gigs have done a great job of providing opportunities for these folks to make money.