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The Gig Economy’s Political Reckoning Has Arrived

Food delivery couriers for Deliveroo Holdings Plc fulfill orders in London, earlier in March. In the gig economy, who’s the boss? Gig work refers to jobs done by workers who aren’t employees, at least according to the companies they work for. The term is most often used to describe people deployed for piecemeal tasks through smartphone apps created by tech startups, such as Uber Technologies Inc. ’s ride-hail and delivery drivers. Such arrangements are a linchpin of the field that used to be called the sharing economy, before sentiment toward it grew more skeptical. Policymakers — and judges — are wrestling with how, and whether, to fit such work into the existing framework of labor law, and President Joe Biden has pledged to weigh in at the federal level. How gig work gets defined will affect the lives of millions of Americans in jobs far removed from Silicon Valley. 1. Where did gig work come from?

It’s part of a broader trend of what’s sometimes called “ fissured ” work: People are making money for companies, and being subjected to their rules, without being considered their employees. Some are employed by staffing agencies , like the companies that provide […]

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