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Independent Workers: Growth Trends, Categories, and Employee Relations Implications in the Emerging Gig Economy


The major objectives of this paper are threefold. First, the paper captures and explains the recent growth trends of independent workers, working as freelancers for corporations, and offering on-demand services for various types of clients mediated by App-enabled platform companies. Second, the paper discusses different terminologies used to describe independent workers and highlights the emergence of a new category of independent on-demand workers, the employment status of whom is a subject of current empirical and academic debate. Finally, the paper discusses the emergence of an increasing number of collective actions recently taken by on-demand workers against platform companies over worsened level of wages, undesirable terms and conditions of work, and inadequate workers’ protection, and examines their implications for the discipline of employee relations.

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Fig. 1: Open talent economy continuum.


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Correspondence to Teresa Shuk-Ching Poon.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by either of the authors. There were no individual participants in this study and, thus, informed consent does not apply to this study.

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Poon, T.SC. Independent Workers: Growth Trends, Categories, and Employee Relations Implications in the Emerging Gig Economy. Employ Respons Rights J 31, 63–69 (2019).

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  • Independent workers
  • on-demand work
  • employee relations
  • gig economy