Most Brits want nothing to do with the 'gig economy'

Rob Price
bike courier messenger

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

LONDON — Brits are happy to reap the benefits of the gig economy and on-demand startups — but they don't want to actually work in it themselves.

Only 13% would consider working in the gig economy full-time in 2017, according to a new Glassdoor study assessing attitudes in the UK, while 27% said they would consider working in it part-time.

A full 76% of people agreed that "having a permanent contract is preferable because it is more secure and there are other benefits available," versus under 14% who favoured contract or temporary work because of the flexibility.

The "gig economy" is a deeply polarising issue right now. It's a class of workers who are technically self-employed and paid per "gig," typically working in service-style roles like deliveries and taxi-driving, often without set hours and with work assigned via a smartphone app.

Defenders of the gig economy argue that it gives workers freedom and flexibility to work how and when they want. This model — empowered freelancers jumping from job to job and selling their services on the open market — is the future of work, some say.

But critics counter that the model can be a way to get around giving workers the rights they would be entitled to if they were actual employees, and sometimes leaves people in precarious financial circumstances.

However, this controversy (and a string of legal battles) hasn't stopped the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, and Hassle transforming how many Brits get around, eat in, and clean.

An estimated 5 million people in the UK work in self-employed roles in some capacity, the BBC reports. A McKinsey study reportedly found that their circumstances vary; some do it to supplement their existing finances voluntarily, while others do so out of necessity; some solely work like this out of choice, while others do it because they have no other options.

An UberEATS food delivery courier rides his bike in London, Britain September 7, 2016. Picture taken September 7, 2016. To match FOOD-DELIVERY/

REUTERS/Neil HallIn a study published Thursday, jobs site Glassdoor surveyed 2,000 Brits about attitudes towards gig economy jobs. The verdict: Given the choice, the overwhelming majority would rather stick to full-time work.

And for all the promises of the gig economy representing an exciting new way of working, less than 10% of people agreed that the gig economy will be the "future of work."

In short: Brits might love the benefits of the gig economy, but given the option, most of them don't want to work in it.

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