Written by the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Kent

The digital economy plays a central role in the daily lives of most people, which has grown dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic.

Not only are we increasingly using the Internet to access services and purchase products, more and more people depend on it for their jobs.

One of the most visible demonstrations of this has been the growth of the “concert” economy, where people work on short-term contracts with flexible hours and are paid for the performance of tasks rather than for the job. time they work.

Many jobs in this industry include people paid to deliver packages, takeout couriers, and minicab drivers. The term concert is used in this sense because it refers to musicians who are paid after performing.

In 2019, around 4.4 million people were regularly employed in the odd-job economy, and estimates suggest that next year that number could have risen to over seven million.

For many people, their work in the odd-job economy is done in their spare time around their normal working hours, but for about one in three people, it is their main or only source of income.

Some find the flexibility of working as a freelance driver or courier, possibly for several different delivery applications, to be a good source of additional income.

However, for others, it can lead to a series of low-paying jobs, often below the national minimum wage, with very few work-related benefits, such as vacation rights and accident protection insurance. work accident.

Some employers in the odd-job economy, like Just Eat, treat their team like employees, others don’t.

With so many people now working in the odd-job economy, it’s time we took a look at this industry and asked if there should be common minimum employment standards for everyone.

Is it really a technology that is revolutionizing flexible working, or a way for wealthy tech companies to get by without paying the kinds of employment costs that normal businesses do for people who work for them on a regular basis.

While in the gig economy you can choose when you work, unlike other forms of part-time work, you won’t know how much you will be paid because there is no minimum hourly rate.

You get paid to complete tasks, but if you work in a quiet time, there will be a lot of unpaid waiting time. When busy, the amount of work a person has can depend on how much work they have already done and the rating of their clients.

In reality, most companies do not explain to their staff how the ranking mechanisms work on their platforms. This can lead to a system where rather than working flexibly, people actually feel like they’re always on hold.

If the readers of this column have direct experience working in the odd-job economy that they would like to share, I would be very interested to hear your perspective.

I know I have been contacted by many constituents as well about the disruption in recent weeks to garbage collection in the Folkestone and Hythe district. I raised this issue with the board who in turn worked with contractor Veolia to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

You can report to the town hall if your trash has not been collected via its website, but also now by contacting Veolia directly. You can call Veolia on 02035672468 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

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