The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself To Death

from The New Yorker

Last September, a very twenty-first-century type of story appeared on the company blog of the ride-sharing app Lyft. “Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began. “About a week away from her due date, Mary decided to drive for a few hours after a day of mentoring.” You can guess what happened next.

Mary, who was driving in Chicago, picked up a few riders, and then started having contractions. “Since she was still a week away from her due date,” Lyft wrote, “she assumed they were simply a false alarm and continued driving.” As the contractions continued, Mary decided to drive to the hospital. “Since she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet,” Lyft went on, “she stayed in driver mode, and sure enough—ping!— she received a ride request en route to the hospital.”

“Luckily,” as Lyft put it, the passenger requested a short trip. After completing it, Mary went to the hospital, where she was informed that she was in labor. She gave birth to a daughter, whose picture appears in the post. (She’s wearing a “Little Miss Lyft” onesie.) The post concludes with a call for similar stories: “Do you have an exciting Lyft story you’d love to share? Tweet us your story at @lyft_CHI!”

Mary’s story looks different to different people. Within the ghoulishly cheerful Lyft public-relations machinery, Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication—the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees. Mary’s entrepreneurial spirit—taking ride requests while she was in labor!—is an “exciting” example of how seamless and flexible app-based employment can be. Look at that hustle! You can make a quick buck with Lyft anytime, even when your cervix is dilating.

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14 Responses to The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself To Death

  1. Anthony Laverde April 24, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

    This article fascinated me in many ways; first of all, it was amazing to see a dedicated woman work the same night she gave birth. Granted, she did believe she was still a week away from child birth, but she continued working even after hours of contractions. This was done in order to make some quick extra money, which could have potentially been dangerous to her health and the health of her arriving baby. However, this Lyft gave her the ability to work, and she chose to do so out of her own free will. The article alluding to the idea that we work ourselves to death does not translate into what was actually discussed in the article itself, despite the fact that I agree with that statement in general. Perhaps this story had the potential to becomes a public relations nightmare, possibly painting it as an irresponsible mother putting herself and her baby in danger, and crucifying Lyft for providing the platform for her to do so. However, I must applaud the public relations team at Lyft for using this story as a successful marketing campaign. Like the article alluded to, this story sparked conversations among users of the app, and they were asked to share their crazy or eventful stories they have had while using the service. Many people applauded this story, and shared their own, taking focus away from the event itself. This marketing genius surely generated even more traffic to the ride sharing service. Sadly, it also made it evident that the public relations department of companies, especially these new tech based disruption companies, are more important than ever. Lyft offers the exact same service as Uber; however they are viewed in a much better light than Uber by the media. There is no doubt in my mind that, had this woman been driving for Uber on this famous night, the negative backlash would have been immense.

    Uber is constantly in the news, being portrayed as a manipulative service that mistreats its employees and extremely under compensates them. There are countless petitions to ban their services, and they are even being banned from entire countries. They are currently in a legal battle, and details from that case can be read about in the following article:

    Uber cannot seem to catch a break, and despite coming after Lyft and improving upon their business model, they seem to take all of the criticism that is given to this ride sharing business model. Drivers whoare employed independently by uber have even had enough; a group of Uber drivers in California have formed a driver’s association. This is a seed stage union, and their mission statement is to provide better wages and benefits for people who work for the app. The extreme difference better Uber and Lyft must come from the way they handle the media and their public relations; that being said, the extreme polarity of the popularity of the companies warrants applause for the team Lyft assembled, and how they handle situations.

  2. Jonathan Cavallone April 25, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    After reading this article I am completely in shock. I question why a pregnant woman would risk working while she is due in one week. I understand that people need money for various reasons but this is something that a pregnant woman should not be doing. Especially once she noticed signs of the baby getting ready to pop out, she should have driven directly to the hospital. I find it remarkable that even while showing signs of labor, she continued to drive the client to the location that was requested. Lucky for her, the ride was short and she was able to drive to the hospital in time where she was informed that she was in fact in labor. Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication—the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees. Mary’s entrepreneurial spirit—taking ride requests while she was in labor!—is an exciting example of how seamless and flexible app-based employment can be. This new era of app-based employment is can be revolutionary but not for the good. These app-based employers usually never meet face to face with the people that they are going to employee, and they cannot confirm the health of the worker while they are working. With apps such as Lyft and Uber, I think it is especially important to see the people who will be driving these cars and making sure they are in good health and mentally sane. Majority of employers would never let an employee come to work nine months pregnant when they are due in one week. Additionally, these taxi like services have had problems with their drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are endless problems that could arise from having drivers that have never been interviewed. For example, a pedophile could sign up to be a driver and wait to capitalize on his opportunity when a group of young girls calls for a ride. I do not like the future that these app based employers have as there are too many problems that could arise from hiring any random person who can download your app. The idea of the gig economy thrives off these app-based jobs and other freelance jobs. Due to the large numbers of people willing to work part-time or temporary positions, the result of a gig economy is cheaper, more efficient services such as Uber and Lyft, for those willing to use them. Those who do not engage in using technological services such as the Internet tend to be left behind by the benefits of the gig economy. Cities tend to have the most highly developed services and are the most entrenched in the gig economy. While not all employers tend toward hiring contracted employees, the gig economy trend often makes it harder for full-time employees to fully develop in their careers, since temporary employees are often cheaper to hire and more flexible in their availability. America is well on its way to establishing a gig economy, and it is estimated that as much as a third of the working population is already working in some sort of gig capacity. This number is only expected to rise. It will be interesting to see how these gig economy jobs pan out in the future.

  3. Lauren Burbank April 25, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

    I have many opinions on this topic. This is one of the reasons I easily listened to my parents when they said to avoid freelance work. My boyfriend drives with Lyft, and my best friend works a regular full time job and then does Lyft & Uber for about 3-4 hours after each shift. I tried convincing both of them to reject these jobs. I don’t like that they are given no insurance, benefits or guarantees. I believe that drivers, and waiters/waitresses, should not be given such incredibly low wages per hour. Companies should be forced to pay a much better (than it is now) “minimum” wage. Minimum wage should be enough to support living in a 1 bedroom apartment, at the least, and right now most people making minimum wage can’t even afford housing when they agree to roommates. Regardless, everyone should make at least minimum wage for the hours they put in.
    When my boyfriend first started driving for Lyft it was because he wanted something that would work around his school schedule. However, there were plenty of times where he received barely any ride requests that didn’t involve leaving the state. When my best friend starting doing Lyft, he explained that the reason he was successful with it was because he was willing to work all weekend and drive in and out of the city. I personally find it to be awful that my friend is working three jobs, 1 full time and 2 part time, to simply afford his apartment, bills, and basic living costs. It gets to a point where all he is doing is working and he doesn’t actually have the time to do anything enjoyable.
    This is one of the most common arguments I find myself in with older generations. I’ve lived on my own since I was 17 and my first apartment was $1500 per month. I had to work around 80 hours a week to afford the rent, pseg, gas, and food. I was barely home because I was working so many hours to afford my apartment. Some members of the older generations believe that my generation is unwilling to work hard and “earn” a better life. The problem I have with this mantra is that for most of them, they didn’t have to earn the ability just to afford the basics. That part was a given so long as you were willing to work a full time job. Vacation homes, bigger homes, nicer cars, etc—yes there is where the “earning” part comes into it. We’re not complaining about the lack of high end luxuries, we’re complaining that the basic means of survival aren’t easily affordable even with two full time jobs.
    I don’t like Gig jobs because I think it just manipulates the concept I just talked about. Its like saying we should be grateful we’re able to work these ridiculous hours as much as we want, regardless of how little the payout may be. Companies need to learn to be more employee-focused and invest in ensuring their employees are leading healthy work-life balances.

  4. William Stuck April 28, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    The emergence of the “gig economy” isn’t something I like very much. The idea of being an independent contractor for my whole life is too uncertain. Especially considering the fact that there will be nothing waiting for you when you retire. And no safety net if you find yourself injured or otherwise unfit to work. I want a job with continuity, where I can work for the same company, with the same group of people, for years and years. Unfortunately, this just isn’t a realistic thought today. Companies appreciate not having to give benefits to their workers, and because of this we will see a sharp spike in the number of people who work independently. People like the Lyft driver who gave birth while working are examples of this flawed system. She won’t get any maternity leave from Lyft, who refuses to even call her an employee. If you work independently doing jobs for various people than that is a separate issue. However, if you’re doing constant work for one company than you should be treated as an employee and given all of what comes with that. Your status as an employee or contractor should be defined by the nature of the work that you are doing, not whether or not it’s convenient for the company. Mary from the article is going to be in a rough spot for the next few months. Hopefully she has other ways of making money. If she doesn’t have someone who can watch the baby then that presents even more problems, she may not be able to work for a while. A bunch of people are probably faced with this problem, or at least something similar that prevents them from working. I really hope that companies begin to appreciate the value of continuity and ethics within a business. Lyft has no problem admitting how hard people like Mary work, but they have yet to reward this dedication by showing some of their own. If someone is willing to dedicate their time to a company, then the company should show that they appreciate that. I don’t want to be just another replaceable cog in the machine and I don’t think anyone else does either. People are expected to give their all and work tirelessly in order for their employer to succeed. Companies should acknowledge this by treating workers as an important part of things. People need to be needed, and treating them like they’re expendable isn’t the way to show them that they are. If you give your workforce benefits and make them feel like valued employees then it is likely that they’ll become even more productive. I hope this doesn’t become a thing, and as future employees we should make it clear that we won’t put up with it. The idea of employees having no unique usefulness just creates a negative work environment.

  5. Antoneta Sevo April 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    There is nothing wrong with hard work. However, it is only okay when the employee is making an actual healthy living. In the article, “The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself To Death” written by Jia Tolentine, the story of a pregnant Lyft driver, Mary, is told. This woman kept driving and taking passengers until she had contractions and was going into labor. Lyft stated that the woman simply assumed that it was a false alarm and continued to be in driver mode. The company also tweeted for the viewers to share their own exciting stories over Twitter. The reality is that it is Lyft’s story and there are always two sides. They said that Mary did not believe she was going into labor yet since she had a week left. However, there is a possibility that “Mary kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor.” That should not be the case. Health is more important than any job or any task. However, that goes against the Fiverr advertisement displayed in article. It states, “You eat coffee for lunch. You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.” That does not make any sense to me at all. Jobs should be able to encourage a healthy lifestyle and should give people health insurance in order to ensure their wellbeing is taken care of. There should not be any encouragement to skip a meal or not get enough sleep.

    In order for people to do their work efficiently, their health must be good. As humans, we need food, we need sleep and we need to decompress. Life is about balance. As I said, there is nothing wrong with hard work. To me that is a good thing to have, however a balance between hard work and self-care is vital. My father is a stone mason which requires heavy lifting every single day. He injured his back on the job and the doctor said he should refrain from lifting for awhile. Though he has insurance, his employer encouraged him to work, which went against what the doctor suggested. In order for my dad to do a good job, he must be in good health. When he was injured, he was pushed to work even more and had no break. It is not fair to take away someone’s wellbeing, which now seems to be considered a luxury. Fiverr encourages people to skip certain human necessities in order to become a “doer”. The point is that you can be successful and an entrepreneur without killing yourself in the process. That is what should be advertised.

    The article states “… the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system.” Companies take stories that would put a negative light on them and switch it to make it seem like they employ such hard working and resilient people. Some people work for a wage that they cannot live off of. People cannot afford transportation so they are forced to walk. People can only afford so much food so they give it to their growing family and skip that meal. That is the problem. Employees do not make enough money in order to take care of themselves and the people they are responsible for. They tend to care more about making money than their own health, which will eventually kill them.

  6. Sirina Natarajan April 28, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

    I had read the Lyft response to the pregnant women taking another request while in labor and I found I more relatable than horrific. Yeah, it is really bad that she felt the need to pick up another request en route to the hospital, but she must not have thought her contractions were that bad and she had probably experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions prior to these. However, I understand that is not the point of this article, but the writer could have led with the “doer campaign” bit.
    The amount of advertisements that promote people going above and beyond is nothing new, but the fact that companies think their advertisements are more persuasive when they suggest people give up their mental health for business productivity may be the root of the problem. To suggest that a person would be better at their job and more valuable if they do not sleep or eat properly is probably the worst advice these advertisements could give the public. I think we are too focused on the endgame and I think pop culture is the reason for it. This tactic is very similar to the advertisements that boast what women should look like that lead regular women to eating disorders and plastic surgeries to look more like the women in the advertisement. As a society, we need to limit putting a sense of competition on the advertisements. The public should stop having to feel like they need to be better than the people in the advertisements are. The advertisements should be more geared towards real people and what they should strive for in a healthy way. We put too of high of expectations on people and the public will always fall short of those expectations. It does not set up a good and productive environment and makes people feel inadequate instead of forcing them to better.
    Nevertheless, I do not think advertisements like these are all bad. I think they can force people to do things they never thought they could and push them to do better. It makes for a more productive society, but only if the advertisements do not attack that which makes us human. The doer ads probably make me more upset than any of the other examples, purely because they encourage people to forgo basic humanities in order to get a project done on time. It makes the public think that nothing is more important than work and your work ethic should dominate your entire life, but that is not how life works. There are times where an employee skips sleeping to finish an assignment, but there are also days where an employee will skip work for a baseball game. It has to be about the balance and I think advertisements should show more of those things. It will make for a healthier society and it will stop the unrealistic expectations we put on people in the work force.
    It is even worse for companies that do not even provide their employees with livable wages and benefits, like Lyft and Uber.

  7. Matthew Radman April 28, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    The gif ecoomy has brought many changes to the way people work. Technology companies still stand in most people’s eyes as strange outliers in an American workforce is mostly accustomed to working within a cubicle setting. The headquarters of Google have become a monument to the typical technology office complete with free food, foosball, and an open layout. The Facebook headquarters are similar in that Mark Zuckerberg himself works from an office that is open and accessible to all employees. Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Alphabet, has himself reminisced about going to his office one day to see a programmer already occupying his space. For weeks, he continued to allow it to go on because of Google’s open office policy. These antics seem excessive to most average Americans, and they are extreme in specific ways, but the concept of open and collaborative office spaces have spread through many industries and are being met with opposition equal to optimism.
    In many jobs today, offices have become expendable. Freelancing has and will continue to reach wide adoption, and more people can ever have been enabled to work from the comfort of their homes. The only aspects of offices that still are valuable are the physical joining of employees. Office designers realize that allowing seamless collaboration make remaining office space valuable and productive. Open spaces can be an asset more so than a loss.
    Another trend that goes along with the idea of a more fluid office is modularity. The LinkedIn offices in the Empire State Building in New York City provide a great example of modular office space. The offices feature the main walk area complete with rows of desks and computers. However, the spaces have moveable walls in between to promote control over privacy. Similarly, the office features multiple rooms in which to work. An employee can sit at the desks when they want to collaborate or be around others, but if they need alone time, they can go to the library or sit at many tables throughout the office. The writer mentions a lack of assignments in the workspace; this is also a philosophy adopted by LinkedIn. He also suggests mobility and a lack of paper. Portability and non-assigned spaces promote fluidity and allow employees to navigate around different areas throughout the day. This can reduce boredom and provide the best environments for various work.
    The writer’s final message is that this is not a fad. Many companies are implementing the designs to promote increased productivity as well as less cost. Open spaces can cost up to 50% less than traditional setups. While perhaps a foosball table will not fit office’s needs ever, many industries are shifting to open layouts for a good reason. Besides economics and productivity, often employees are happier working in an open and collaborative office. With so many alternatives to working from within an office, office spaces have the opportunity to transform to fit a modern workforce better. As technology and creativity become the go-to aspects of any company, open, collaborative, and modular work environments will become the norm.

  8. Taylor Salomon April 28, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    Lyft or Uber. First semester I was a proud Uber user until I was introduced to Lyft. Rides in Lyft were more pleasant than Uber surprisingly. I just admired the atmosphere and caring drivers. While reading this article, I was surprised to hear Lyft does not provide its drivers paid maternity leave or health insurance. All the car service offers is connecting drivers with an insurance broker and helpfully notes that “Affordable Care Act offers many choices to make sure you’re covered.” I was shocked and started to wonder what others thought of this benefits situation. Student Lauren Burbank has connections to people who work as a car driver. She states her “boyfriend drives with Lyft, and best friend works a regular full time job and then does Lyft & Uber for about 3-4 hours after each shift. I tried convincing both of them to reject these jobs. I don’t like that they are given no insurance, benefits or guarantees. I believe that drivers, and waiters/waitresses, should not be given such incredibly low wages per hour. Companies should be forced to pay a much better (than it is now) “minimum” wage. Minimum wage should be enough to support living in a 1 bedroom apartment, at the least, and right now most people making minimum wage can’t even afford housing when they agree to roommates.” She concludes by saying everyone should make at least minimum wage for the hours they put in. I agree with this statement. My summer job did not pay minimum wage because my tips compensated for the missing amount. I did not like this rule at all. It seemed dumb and unfair. I should be paid the number of hours I put in.
    Student William Stuck states “companies appreciate not having to give benefits to their workers, and because of this we will see a sharp spike in the number of people who work independently. People like the Lyft driver who gave birth while working are examples of this flawed system. She won’t get any maternity leave from Lyft, who refuses to even call her an employee. If you work independently doing jobs for various people than that is a separate issue. However, if you’re doing constant work for one company than you should be treated as an employee and given all of what comes with that. Your status as an employee or contractor should be defined by the nature of the work that you are doing, not whether or not it’s convenient for the company”. Will makes a great point that companies appreciate not giving benefits to workers. I found it odd and researched reasons to offer employee benefits. The list included: increase your appeal, minimize your turnover rate, better morale, healthier employees, and better job performance. The gig economy is a major influence in this discussion. It is important for all to know what a gig economy is. It is a business environment where organizations contract independent workers for temporary positions. In Mary’s situation, she kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor. Businesses like Lyft should not influence its employees to put their job over their life. If a driver is feeling ill or like they are going to deliver a baby, they should immediately stop taking customers. Life is short and an extra $11 does not make a major difference.

  9. Jill Coleman May 26, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    Although extreme, this article,The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death, presents a very valid point about the influence of work in people’s personal lives. A relatively new concept has emerged, called work life balance, in which employees are expected to find a happy medium between corporate engagement/involvement and happy lives at home. This concept came about out of peoples growing commitment to their day job and corresponding neglect to responsibilities to their family. Studies indicated that employees are more successful and empowered when they spend enough time “relaxing at home”. Child study teams have also began conducting research on the value of parental involvement/influence in the lives of molding children educationally. Children who had parents that work long shifts at work lacked discipline in school and guidance in decision making. Historically, the “stay at home mom” that was prominent in the 60’s and 70’s, made for successful children as there was constant supervision at home and reinforcement on things like homework. Whereas the father figure worked later hours to provide for the home. Although there were faults in that structure, generally it has been attributed to the successes of baby boomers and Generation X in workplace commitment. Over time it has become normal for both parents to work full time and deter children raising to nannies. This is shown by the fact that most school districts are generating all-day kindergarten programs as well as free pre-school because parents are not available to supervise young children. America has always admired and tried to reflect the European system of lifestyle. It is customary for employees to take mental health days and increased personal days to ensure that work life balance is in fact successfully implemented. In addition, European employees work less days out of the year and commit time to developing holistically with their families or in the development of additional skill-sets. If you exist in the vacuum of your office, you are excluding yourself from experiencing life and therefore developing new skill-sets like surfing, for example.
    In relation to the article, it depicts the classic American mindset of work. Money is valued more heavily over the safety and well-being for self. The female Lyft driver managed to finish her shift, while in labor because she was committed to her work. Although relatively extreme and appalling for some, what is even more shocking is how openly Lyft supported her decision and commended her reasoning. Although not stated explicitly, the company is putting forth an image of not valuing employee livelihood, and that they promote employees who do not take personal care. Personally, I would not want to work for a corporation who makes a stance that my recognition is contingent upon my unhealthy commitment to the organization and not the quality of my work itself. As consumers, we turn a blind eye to the corporate un-etiquette realized in 2017. It is commonplace for advertising to be focused around business-centric selfishness. The article makes mention of Fiverr, an organization that had a red flag raised due to their marketing campaign “In Doers We Trust”. Stating that you are only a good fit for the organization if you are hungry and sleep deprived is an unethical expectation for employees. When in fact, what value is derived from an employee who is not pursuing a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Expanding on their logic, if an employee drinks coffee for every meal, and is sleep deprived every day of work are they truly working efficiently and at their full capacity. And is this lifestyle sustainable? A person who only consumes caffeine and no other food source will surely contract ailments like diabetes, heart disease and other life threatening diseases liked to malnutrition. What good is an employee who only has a shelf life of a few years before burning out? Especially if we could’ve prevented the burn out in the first place?
    We have allowed corporations to adopt the mindset that you need to fit the organization and that the organization doesn’t need to fit you. This management principle of person-job fit has been completely disregarded by many large businesses, primarily financial services industries where work hours are extended seasonally throughout the year. Thus, attributing to the growing normalcy of skewed priorities described in the article. Corporations like Google are taking a very different stance on the work environment. Developing living and learning buildings where employees feel at home, at work. Providing with free child care, gyms, and nap stations to resemble the different pillars that make an employee well rounded and more effective in the workplace. You can work better if you’re both physically and mentally being stimulated as well as eliminating external distractants like having to worry about a babysitter for children every day and the steep cost of doing so.

  10. Lauren MacArthur May 27, 2017 at 5:48 pm #

    The author of this blog argues that corporations are mistreating employees making tons of money while the common worker suffers. The basis for the author’s arguments though are on misinformed information when the article states, “Look at that hustle! You can make a quick buck with Lyft anytime; even when your cervix is dilating” and “acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system”. The author makes the assumption that an employer has a choice to classify employees as contractors.
    The Department of Labor suggests a 20-factor test to determine the status of contractor vs. employee. In using the 20-fact test it is obvious that Lyft, Uber, and other ride services are clearly classified as independent contractors. As contractors they are ineligible for employer sponsored medical benefits, employee sponsored disability insurance, and paid time off. At the same time, they enjoy the benefits of being an independent contractor including, setting their own hours, having a say in how they deliver service, and having the flexibility to work for multiple employers. While the issue of compensation is at the discretion of the employer, independent contractors are aware of the rates before signing the agreement and it is up to the individual to either accept or negotiate these rates.
    When I had my first child I was employed as an independent contractor. I was physically able to work up until the day that I gave birth. While the company who paid me was not required to provide benefits I had the ability to purchase benefits on the open market. I had the right to continue working whenever I wanted, rather than following strict employer/employee policies. I was physically able to return to work four week after giving birth. During my second pregnancy I was working as an “employee” for a large organization. I was required to provide medical documentation removing me from work prior to the birth, and returning me to work post-delivery. While I felt healthy enough to return to work four weeks after delivery, the employer required me to wait at least six weeks.
    I often hear people complaining about the lack of benefits provided by the organizations in which they work for. In a supply and demand labor economy companies who have a more difficult time finding and keeping workers are going to be more inclined to provide better perks and benefits. In industries where there is a regular supply of labor, companies may provide lower pay and fewer benefits. Recently, local state municipalities have been passing legislation requiring employers to provide mandated benefits. Philadelphia for example, passed, “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplace Ordinance”. Saying under determined circumstances employers must supply paid and unpaid leave to their employees. While covered employers are only required to pay this benefit for employees vs. contractors, it increases the cost of having employees. In cases where the 20-factor test is applied and the employer has some discretion in classifying its workers they may lean towards classifying borderline contractors as employees to save money.

  11. Meagan E Finnerty June 2, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

    Times are hard, especially within the economy we are in and I agree completely with the fact that many people have side jobs – like driving for Lyft, Uber or retail in order to acheieve ends meets. However, although I agree with the hard work and drive these individuals put in to afford their life styles, but I do not agree with putting the other’s lives at risk to get there. As talked about in the article, the Lyft driver Mary, who was due in a week and went into labor while trying to make quick and easy money through an app and simple work could have ultimately killed someone and changed the lives of the individuals whom were involved with that person.
    The author talks about how America has become obsessed with the idea of self-reliance. As I do think everyone has fallen to. I can admit that I work myself extremely hard to afford the things that I want in my life, but I know my limits. A couple months ago, I tried to apply to be an Uber driver. I was twenty at the time and therefore, I was unable to drive. Uber requires you to be twenty-one to drive for them. At the time, I was quite annoyed with the process as I felt I was capable of driving and delivering for their company but I now understand that it is a process they must require to ensure the safety of their consumers. It was a long process that was required – where my car had to be examined, I had to have proof of a license, registration, insurance, also fill out an application. Which I know, Lyft follows the same strict policies and regulations. In my opinion, for a company that has such strict policies; how can someone who is pregnant and so close to their due date be driving? And even after that how could you know if someone who just bared a child can drive at ease? Even if it is a simple job as driving, it still risks the lives of innocent people.
    The article discusses how this job ‘the gig’ economy is growing and how it enables people to make money at the ease of their fingers. For example, Fiverr was talked about in the article which is becoming one of the most heavily populated freelance market places. The article states how it can be so easy for people who participate in these to make money, unlike people who are ‘driving to their deaths’ as the article hints at. The main aspect is that these people are working extremely hard to make money – but are lacking the most important aspects to a job; which are the benefits and insurance. A person ultimately works to live a life style they desire. If they want some nice car, nice house, and nice clothes – they work hours upon hours or dedicate themselves to school to ensure that they will get this. Likewise, if a person does not care they simply stay at the level of work in which they do the bear minimum and skate by with ease.
    Overall, I agree with these gig jobs as they provide an excellent source of income for people who are looking for easy, extra cash. But I do believe that if these ‘gig jobs’ are going to continue to grow at the rapid rate they are, they must become more heavily governed. There need to be rules, laws and regulations brought into place. Situations as to where a woman is going into labor while driving for Lyft or Uber cannot be happening. There needs to find a medium between easy money but regulation. At this point in our lives government agencies regulate close to everything to ensure the safety of all people, but this is slipping right under their radar. Gig jobs have become a dependable way of living for some and therefore, if people can make this a full-time job 0- they should be receiving benefits to ensure that their lives are not put at stake while working for the bare minimum. Ultimately, these jobs are great – but need to be regulated to ensure the safety of all lives within America.

  12. Ron Simpkins June 3, 2017 at 10:31 pm #

    I thought today’s working professionals fight for work-life balance: more vacation days, credited time off, increase sick time, teleworking arrangements, alternate work schedules, child care subsidies, and company student-debt repayment options. I was really hoping the millennial generation would continue to pave the way for hard workers to enjoy work-life balance. Self-reliance from my generation has been drilled into our brains from the work-hard mentality of the baby boomers. Baby boomers or the lunch-box generations didn’t have mountains of student loan debt or the inability to enjoy dinner with their families at a reasonable time of night. This article reminds me of my commuter train station’s platform waiting, but watching the Amtrak’s express train from Boston to New York to D.C. filled with business men and women steadily talking, and discussing, more than likely work related issues. However, this is the reality of life. The meter never stops, and we the people that want to have a ‘comfortable life” must work endlessly. Some people if not all people have to work harder and be more available than most. I believe that old Avis rental car slogan never grows old–Try Harder. Unfortunately, the more we whine the more irritating the hamster wheel continues to be crippling depressive. Regardless to how well organizations, companies, and the world promotes the self-reliant go-getter attitudes,but the bills, the need for food, clothing and shelter will never end. Should companies not monetize on pain and misery slogans? Maybe or maybe not. Should we revise our job applications to make it look more hard charging or painfully defeated? Of course, not! I do find it difficult at times to continuously try to work harder, regardless of my circumstances. However, my mentor always re-emphasizes the importance to find purpose or be invested in my interest rather than my regular 9 to 5 gig’s interest. I am not in anyway downplaying the situation. I do commend her drive to continue squeezing every moment of opportunity to gain a little bit more. Thankfully, her child was health and she had encountered no complications from this event.

  13. Arielle Fortes September 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    America has been known as the land of opportunity, and known for the American Dream. Although the American Dream is very well-known it is not the same for everyone. However, the American dream is that everyone can achieve what they desire as long as they work hard for what their dream is. The ideal situation is that they would do this without any external help and instead that someone would be able to bring themselves up with their own two hands. This self-reliance is not necessarily a bad thing to emulate, but like all things there is a negative impact when taken to the absolute extreme. In the current society, although self-reliance is a great characteristic too much reliance on oneself can cause other people to be overworked. In addition, in this society it is very hard to get jobs in almost any environment, not to mention full time job. To make ends meet in this society people often take non-permanent jobs and these do not pay well, so they must work longer.
    I believe that one reason that people overwork themselves not just in non-permanent jobs but also in permanent jobs are because of the fact that there are fewer jobs and a job shortage currently happening in the economy and there will be less in the future. According to a Forbes article by Stephen Moore, there is a lack of skilled workers entering the workforce from high school and many people are no longer interested in taking blue collar jobs. Although it seems like these jobs are not sophisticated and need no prior experience they actually need specific skills that are not always taught. These technological skills are needed in these new jobs that are now dominating the workplace. In addition for the younger generation right out of college there is more competition for those jobs with a college degree. Unfortunately, the competition is tougher since that this generation is all going to college so many more people have a college degree. Due to this fact, a member of the younger generation need to make themselves ‘different’ to get jobs.
    In many different industries there is always an idea that ‘There is always someone to take your place’. The very idea that you are replaceable is a huge motivation for many to overwork themselves. There is the simple idea that if you are a hard worker and are working harder than other than you will be able to keep your job due to the fact that you work so hard. However, I believe that rather than people who just work harder employers would rather have people who are adaptable and work harder rather than smarter. If you worker smarter you can work more efficiently which means that you may get more word done rather than working smart. In non-permanent jobs people may believe that they are easier to replace than they actually are, and these jobs may be easier to hire more people in since they involve skills that most of the population may have.
    Another reason that they might need this job to support themselves. The lack of money can be a definite reason to overwork yourself if need money. To put it crudely, without money it is hard to get anywhere. To eat you need to have money to buy ingredients or ready-made food from outside. If you need a place to live you have to pay for it. If you need clothes then you also need money to buy clothes. Also if you have a dependent then you have to provide not only for yourself but for them as well. If you work more hours then you can naturally earn more money, and with more money you can use it to give yourself a better life and increase the quality of your life. To people who do not have money to make their lives better or make their children’s lives better then overworking themselves is nothing in comparison.
    Although overworking yourself is terrible thing to do which is extremely detrimental for your health. Many people have legitimate reasons to do so, which is a very sad situation that can be common. I personally think that overworking yourself may be necessary based on the situation and if you have no other option.

  14. Isabel Grullon Ramirez November 11, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    This article was really fascinating. The woman in question went into labor and still managed to take two more Lyft request while she was at it. While the focus of the article wasn’t this human marvel, it is worth highlighting a thing or two about this. First of, the woman was in labor! She risked her health and her baby in order earn a few more dollars. As the article points out “gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dlls can feel more important than seeking the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor” Gig economy has led people to believe that even if it means to put yourself in harm, it is okay as long as you’re making a few dollars.

    The self reliance on working at one’s own pace, hides that many of this people are overworking themselves. Although it may seem as this is their own choice, many of these people take this second job in order to make ends meet. With a minimum wage job, these “gigs” can help them make the extra money that would cover their extra expenses. But what is the underlying cost of working these extra hours? If they work 8 hours at a minimum wage job, and get the suggested the 8 hours of sleep, that only leaves an additional 8 hours of the day, which doesn’t take into regard everyday activities or routines. In order to make a significant amount of money, they have to work on average 60 rides a week at least when they’re working with Lyft or Uber. With all of this taken into account, what time do this people have to do other things? Of course, they do not have to do this everyday, but if they are trying to get their bills paid, and they do not have a job that pays for them, this might be the only way to pay for them.

    Works Cited:

    Next Avenue “11 Things To Know Before Becoming An Uber Or Lyft Driver.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Apr. 2017,

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