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Do workers in the 'gig economy' get workers' comp?

The 'gig' economy, also often referred to as the 'sharing economy', generally just refers to jobs like driving for Uber or Lyft. These are jobs based on short-term contracts, where a person is basically paid for each small task.

An Uber driver is different than a taxi driver, for instance because a taxi driver works for a centralized company and has shifts. An Uber driver just picks up rides on the Internet, and he or she is paid for how many rides are given out. If a driver wanted to do just one ride a day, that would be fine, or the driver could work for 16 hours straight.

The nature of these jobs is important to note, though, because it means that the workers are typically thought of as independent contractors, not employees. And this means that they may not be covered by workers' compensation.

As you can imagine, this can be problematic in many jobs, especially those involving driving. Auto accidents are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States every single year. The level of risk is incredibly high. In many other professions, on-the-clock workers who are driving would be covered in work-related auto accidents, but this does not apply to those in the so-called gig economy.

There have been movements to fight back against this, to force companies to give their contract workers coverage, so it will be important to keep an eye on any legal changes in the future. This is a new and emerging way to work, so be sure you know what rights you have in Illinois.

Source: Quartz, "Gig economy workers injured on the job should get workers’ comp protections," Debbie Berkowitz, accessed Aug. 29, 2016

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