Get this. Gig economy is set to bring in a whopping US$2.7 trillion by 2025 to the world.
The industry is rapidly growing with the fastest growing jobs online involve writing, programming and blockchain technology.
In Malaysia alone, 26 percent of the total 15.3 million Malaysian workforce form part of the growing gig economy. That’s close to 4 million freelancers!
Gig economy is a term referred to a working trend on the rise lately where people take on freelance gigs or short-term contract-based jobs either as a side hustle or to make a living.
With the percentage set to rise and many Malaysians pivoting towards this lifestyle due to its benefits such as being able to work from home, getting to choose what jobs to take on and who you get to work with, the gig economy is seen as a new source of economic growth.
But there’s a problem.
Lack of welfare and rights for freelancers.
Unlike full time workers who receive benefits in the form of the Employees Provident Fund (a mandatory retirement scheme by the Malaysian government), financial safety, pensions, insurance coverage, and more, giggers however don’t enjoy such privileges.
This is because those who form part of the gig economy are often registered as vendors by businesses who hire them for their services.
As a freelancer or a contract worker, those in this industry are also prone to be the first to face the axe in the event a company faces financial issues. To make matters worse, some even experience delay in payments.
While it’s certainly a breath of fresh air for many freelancers to be able to work from home in their underpants, the possibility of not getting a paycheck at the end of the month is real. And it’s scary.
But it’s going to change. Hopefully.
Thankfully, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is aware of the potential of giggers spurring the growth of the Southeast Asian country’s economy.
In fact, he intends to include gig economy as part of the upcoming 12th Malaysia Plan, an economic development plan to be devised by the Pakatan Harapan government.
The focus would be on ensuring the welfare and rights of the gig economy workforce is met.
“As a new trend, whereby jobs are now more flexible, the government is faced with a challenge with regards to protecting the welfare of the workers involved in this gig economy. This is following the ‘master and servant’ relationship and employment relationships which are convoluted,” he said at the parliament.
He said a few initiatives to leverage on the gig economy will be included as well in the drafting of the plan which will be implemented between 2021 to 2025.
“This is a new way for them to work, and we found that many benefitted from this gig economy. So that’s why we have to maintain this system, but we want rules to protect workers’ rights,” Mahathir added.
More details on the plans will be released in the near future, he added.
Keep your fingers crossed Malaysian freelancers!