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The World Bank’s Promotion of Gig Economy



In the recently concluded 2022 World Bank Annual Meetings, one of the critical dialogues was about “gig economy.” This refers to an ecosystem of nonstandard workforce, such as contractors, on-call workers, and service providers from online platforms. The pandemic has drastically changed how people live and work, resulting in the steep rise of the work-from-home culture and the mentioned ways of working. After two years of observing the issues, the World Bank has noticed that nonstandard workers have been through some serious problems. These include long working hours or the lack of benefits “standard” employees enjoy, be it provident fund or social security.


INCLUSIVE POLICY IS THE FIRST PRIORITY

The most pressing issue is benefits. Due to the nature of gig work, companies are not incentivized to provide the same packages to temporary workers as those of full-time employees. This has left millions out of employee benefit programs such as employer-contributed provident funds, group insurance, and social security. Not only that, the legal protection that comes with employment status in a company is often not applied to gig workers. In other words, if they are sued on work-related issues, they might not receive support from the firm at all. Therefore, the World Bank recommends drafting laws and regulations to compel companies to provide the same standards of benefits across the board. As the number of gig workers is projected to increase, having a legal infrastructure that ensures equal protection and benefits will be crucial in creating a sustainable working ecosystem.


BUSINESSES MUST TAKE CARE OF ALL EMPLOYEES

While on the policy front, the World Bank recommends that the public sector adopt more inclusive laws to leave no one behind. It is also vital for companies to take the initiative and take care of the issue before the said laws are made. A study from Harvard Business Review shows that 59% of workers have better mental health when more employee benefits are provided. Better mental health means better productivity and collaboration. As such, by expanding benefits (apart from salary) to cover all workers, no matter their status or roles, companies will gain a more cohesive and productive workforce—a boon to both employees and employers. Interesting examples are Netflix and LinkedIn, which provide all workers—from interns to contractors—with the same attractive benefits, including free gyms, game rooms, and even restaurants and cafés. These come on top of regular benefits, such as group insurance and provident fund.


The problems facing gig workers in the past few years have prompted the World Bank to suggest global policymakers take mitigating legal actions. Nonetheless, companies should not wait until they are forced to comply, but should work on this issue on their own devices. As employees are essential components of any business, ensuring they receive proper treatment can produce benefits that will go a long way.


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