Gig workers, freelancers, sharing economy workers — call them what you want to, but the millions who drive you around in Lyfts, deliver your Seamless or work on piecemeal projects from home have become a staple of the American workforce — and their numbers are only set to grow.
A report out today says 56.7 million Americans worked as freelancers in the last year. That is more than 1 out of 3 of the entire labor force.
For full-time employees, a whole array of protections exist to make sure they get paid, are not discriminated against and retain some income if they lose their jobs. From federal employment laws to state laws and city ordinances, employees have recourse for wrongdoing by employers. But for the fast-growing segment of Americans working as freelancers, little to no legal protections exist.
That’s beginning to change. From a modern take on labor unions in the shape of the Freelancers Union to legal tech startups trying to provide freelancers with simple and accessible contracts that protect their rights, freelancer protections are slowly catching up to the incredible growth that the gig economy has seen over the past few years.