Gig economy workers seek relocation opportunities, but job classification challenges and local regulations remain a barrier.
By Mary Stoik Dymond
The rising trend of professional gig work is shifting the boundaries on the permanent, full-time employment norm. In fact, some analysts are even predicting that more than half of workers will be contractors or gig workers in the near future (Nation1099). The composition of workplace talent is nearing a tipping point, and the global gig economy is only poised to grow.
Against this backdrop, talent and workplace mobility solutions provider Graebel Companies, Inc. surveyed 600 total gig workers in three global markets to better understand their attitudes, expectations, and preferences for participating in the on-demand worldwide economy. The survey found that 83 per cent of gig workers in the U.K., U.S., and Singapore are interested in relocating to another country for a contract job. That number is even higher for millennials, the largest workplace generation and largest current and future talent pool for most companies. Nearly all millennial gig workers surveyed (95 per cent) are interested in relocating to another country for a contract job.
However, laws and regulations haven’t kept up with this labour market evolution. HR professionals are well-acquainted with the distinct classifications of employees and non-employees, as well as the potential legal and financial business implications of not properly maintaining these classifications. This creates complexity for global companies and HR managers when hiring and working with gig talent.
The Graebel survey provides some best practices for global companies looking to successfully include gig workers as part of their talent management and mobility programmes, whilst taking into account the potential legal intricacies of working with gig workers.
Here are four considerations for HR and talent mobility managers:
- Understand each host country’s employment laws and regulations. Every country has its own laws when it comes to distinguishing gig workers from employees, in addition to laws outlining circumstances that require specific work permits for expatriates. It’s important to have a solid understanding of the specific requirements in each country. Relocating a gig worker internationally can be difficult as a result of employment and work permit regulations. In some cases, global companies may need to hire local workers or use a temporary staffing agency in the country where they have short-term work. However, companies could benefit from researching and determining how to incorporate gig workers into their business as a way to provide creative talent solutions for short-term assignments.
- Determine the best way to utilise gig talent by balancing company and contractor needs. Survey findings show that most gig workers are looking for support from companies to make an international relocation feasible and to help them acclimate to day-to-day life in a different country. Desired benefits typically include a housing allowance and financial assistance for rent, relocation cost and financial support for moving expenses, and language courses and cultural training. This may or may not be possible—or even desirable—depending on the specific company and circumstances, but global companies should be aware of such expectations and desires as the gig worker population grows. Determining ways to offer relocation and work permit support could be an advantage to any company looking to meet growing talent needs as well as the needs of the current and next generation of workers. Interestingly, the survey also revealed 83 per cent of gig workers would cover their own relocation expenses in order to take a contract position in one of their dream cities. Paris, New York and London ranked as the top three cities global gig workers would like to relocate to.
- Ensure appropriate and clear contractual arrangements for each gig assignment. Each gig worker must have a clear contract establishing his or her relationship with the company. Determine whether the classification should be independent contractor or short-term employee, and which relationship will work best within the compliance environment of the targeted host country. Identify potential tax, legal, and currency issues, and determine the best solutions for those issues. Clearly articulate the fees, compensation, benefits, expense reimbursement, mobility packages, responsibilities, and performance expectations within the contract. Having an agreed-upon contract will ensure that each party understands.
- Design a consistent approach for integrating gig workers into diverse worker teams. Make sure roles, responsibilities, and lines of communication and authority are clear to avoid any ambiguity. Establishing clear expectations for how gig workers and full-time employees should interact and work together will ease the process.
With the ever-growing global gig economy, HR leaders stand to benefit by engaging professional gig workers as a way to meet fast-growing talent needs. Today’s and tomorrow’s workers are seeking more flexible options outside the traditional workplace, schedule, and locations. Additionally, it is clear that providing global opportunities will set companies apart as an assignment or employer of choice. It’s time to create solutions that meet worker needs and business objectives whilst making sure the organisation remains compliant.
Mary Stoik Dymond is chief talent officer for Graebel Companies, Inc.