Student Projects

Protections and Benefits for Workers in Today’s On-Demand Economy

Protections and Benefits for Workers in Today’s On-Demand Economy

Caitlyn Leiter-Mason, Stephanie McAlary, Bhavin Patel, Kyle Sullender & Manning Qiao

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In this report, we identify options for state administrative and legislative actions that New Jersey can pursue to improve on-demand workers’ workplace protections and access to worker benefits. We prepared this report for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD), who asked us to take a broad view in defining “on-demand worker;” we included both 1099 independent contractors and certain W-2 part-time employees. The proliferation of online platforms, which use mobile networks to connect clients to workers, has driven a rapid expansion in attention to the on-demand economy. However, worker participation on these platforms is largely supplemental to other primary work and is often underreported; this makes it difficult to have a full measure of the on-demand economy. Through a review of available literature, we have found that on-demand workers:

  • face significant challenges regarding inconsistent scheduling, which leads to significant
    income variance, financial insecurity, and family instability;
  • often do not receive benefits from their employers and are not able to bargain for
    benefits, and as such do not develop a safety net to rely on during lean times;
  • are excluded from protection under Federal Title VII and experience workplace
  • work in hazardous conditions but typically do not receive workers’ compensation; and
  • face major barriers to organizing, unionization and bargaining.