The Health of Workers in the Global Gig Economy

Authors: Uttam Bajwa , Denise Gastaldo, Erica Di Ruggiero and Lilian Knorr
Date of publish:December 2018

Why did we select this research?

The gig economy is a reality that connects consumers with contractors (or workers) through online platform businesses to perform tasks (hence the gigs). This innovation in technology provides businesses and consumers access to low-cost, on-demand and tailored labour. Nevertheless,  gig workers’ experiences are more complex within this new system, where there is tendency of suffering from labour-related abuses.

Key findings:

  • The short-term nature of this work (gigs) generates a tendency of creating precarious employee-employer relationships.
  • Workers are vulnerable to the economic and social demands of providing their own tools and equipment, limited opportunities for training and career growth, low wages, no job or income security, and wage discrimination against certain groups, particularly women.
  • Psychological distress of precarious work and lack of health and social insurance coverage in countries without publicly funded health systems (like in the United States).
  • When it comes to online labour market (work that does not require providing services in-person), businesses can hire workers anywhere in the world, which creates a race to the bottom for lowest remuneration.
  • As independent contractors, gig workers lack stability and benefits associated with being an employee.


Bajwa et al. Globalization and Health (2018) 14:124