Tag Archives: self-employment

Support the Gig Economy

We’re in a time warp on employment law.  The economy has shifted toward a gig economy model, but the Biden administration seems to be stuck in the 1930’s factory model. 

Start with the gig economy.  The shift began in the 1980’s when business schools preached the benefits of “shareholder” value to the exclusion of all other considerations.  The bean counters scrutinized each company’s expenses in slash and burn operations. First to go was in-house training of workers.

Second to go was entire swathes of workers.  The downsized workers were often hired back as independent contractors to do their old jobs.  The “savings” on not paying employee benefits to them created “shareholder” value.  Senior management promptly rewarded themselves with bigger pay packets and stock options while shoveling a few dollars more to their shareholders as dividends.

(Business leaders now moan about their inability to find workers with the appropriate skills but are still unwilling to invest in their workers.  In an article a few years ago in The Wall Street Journal business leaders admitted they would not invest in training their workers because they didn’t want to lose their investment when the employees left. The irony of demanding loyalty from workers while offering nothing in return is apparently lost of these overpaid masters of the universe.)

By the 2000’s, the internet had lowered the cost of starting a business.  The switch to a gig economy accelerated during last year’s covid.  Many workers pushed into unemployment during the past year have decided to bet on themselves by starting their own businesses.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration seems to be stuck in the past. Don’t get me wrong. Biden’s boffos are a distinct relief after Trump’s minions tried to resurrect the 1980’s by dismembering every law that might protect workers.

But the Biden administration’s approach will undermine the gig economy, the most dynamic part of our economy now that most big businesses are monopolies dominating their industries.  Recent Department of Labor guidance makes it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors.  The rationale is that too many companies deliberately misclassify workers as independent contractors in order to save on payroll taxes and employee benefits.  That is true.

However, that’s no reason to rip the heart out of the gig economy.   Instead of rolling back the economic clock, it’s time to change how employee benefits are offered.  Employee benefits like health care, fair wages and overtime pay were forced on employers in the 1930’s in a clever maneuver to bust the unions; and indirectly to fight communism since most Americans believed that all union organizers were commies.

That was then. Now we need to free up workers to use their skills and interests to the best of their abilities. Instead of looking backward, the Biden administration should imagine how the future of work could look.

It’s time to create individual health accounts, just as there are individual retirement accounts.  Allow gig workers to top up their IRA’s with amounts equivalent to an employer’s 401(k) match.  Give gig workers a tax credit to cover a set number of vacation and sick days each year.

Some people prefer traditional employment. Some people are suited to be gig workers.  The benefit of encouraging a hybrid economic model, part traditional and part gig, will unleash the creative abilities of our country. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. We also integrate HR compliance into the company-wide compliance program through internal controls and advising on how to mitigate risks with insurance. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com). For my musings on history, visit History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts here on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Filed under Business Savvy, History, Self Savvy

Flying Solo:  Pros and Cons of Being Self-Employed

Flying Solo

I am self-employed.  Notwithstanding a part-time hourly gig, I am entirely responsible for my work product, time management, working conditions, clientele and income.  In the past, I spent years working in a corporate environment; a place I learned is not for me.  But being my own boss is not without challenges, either.  Thankfully, I have my supportive HerSavvy friends to help me over the rough spots and to celebrate my victories big and small.  In fact many of us are self-employed, leading one Savvy gal to refer to us as her “advisory board.”  I LOVE IT!!!!  Indeed there is a veritable font of knowledge flowing through this group so I decided to ask the question: What are the pros and cons of being your own boss?  And being the generous women they are, they gladly opened up and shared some of their lessons learned.  So, in no particular order, here are some answers from our HerSavvy Advisory Board:

“For what it’s worth, I love being self-employed because I have complete and utter creative and aesthetic control over my products and how they are presented, marketed and packaged. There’s no group that has to sign off on my new collection or the colors of my logo. I also enjoy being able to accept challenges and quickly modify offerings/policy based on client feedback. What I often struggle with is switching between the creative (right brained) responsibilities and the business/analytical (left brained) tasks. I find that to be most effective, I often need a bit of space between the two.”

“What I like – no issues with changing schedules as needed.  What I don’t like – being all things – custodian, bookkeeper, office manager, marketer etc…until and unless you have funds to outsource all this, it is a lot of work to wear all these hats.”

“Practically, my biggest hurdle to overcome was technical support.  I had resources to address all the legal consulting issues specific to my profession.  It was having/maintaining the technical tools that was tough. In a broader sense, I had to critically analyze my greatest weakness(es) and find outside resources to bolster my practice.  It takes a critical, objective eye and the willingness to admit that ‘you can’t do it all.’  That can be very difficult for some people. For me the biggest pros were not bowing to bureaucratic requirements that got in the way of serving my clients and freedom to set my own hours, focus on the type of law I wanted to practice, etc.  I also had greater freedom about setting my rates and even accepting consideration other than money.”

“Pro: You are your own boss.  Con: You are your own boss.  But expanding on the Pro side, you have flexibility with your time.  Even though all of us that are self-employed put in many hours each week we can take the time to go to that special family event or take our vacations on our schedule and not someone else’s.   And on the Con side being your own boss means you wear many different hats and that can be stressful and very tiresome at time.”

“Pro: Flexible schedule.  Con: Having to keep a watch on every piece of the business (i.e., billing, scheduling, business filings, etc.); not having anyone else to help manage those things.”

“Pro: I absolutely love the ‘Flexibility’ of being self-employed!  Con: The need to continuously look for the next job!”

“I thrive on the accountability of it. You do good work for a client you get rewarded; there are not as many variables between you and the work you do, unlike in a large corporate firm where the performance or needs of partners. etc., may affect you. I like control so this allows me maximum control over my work and reward. On the other side it is occasionally lonely. While your employees may be friends with each other, as their boss I could not have the same level of camaraderie. This is especially true in a small environment when you have 2/3 people working for you.”

So, there you have it, straight from the mouths of the most successful, motivated, intelligent, passionate, creative and amazing women I have ever known.  If you are self-employed, let us know your pros and cons and how you keep it all together.  Stay Savvy, my friends!

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website athttp://www.zoneabouttown.com.

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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