If you’ve signed up to drive for Lyft or sell cool crafts on Etsy, you know the drill: Because you’re an independent contractor, you can’t expect the traditional workplace perks like paid vacations and highly-subsidized health care that employees typically enjoy. But that doesn’t mean gig economy workers get no benefits at all. You may be surprised to find that you can still get some sweet extras like sign-up bonuses, discounted phone service and help marketing your goods and services.
Thanks to a strong job market, which means more competition for qualified workers, gig economy companies are sweetening the pot to attract and retain talent that might otherwise be lured away by better offers. Of course there’s a limit to how many extras employers will offer contractors. “The entire reason employers hire contractors is often to avoid providing them with any benefits traditionally thought of as employee benefits,” Kathryn F. Abernethy, an employment lawyer at Abernethy Law, said in an email interview.
The key to making sure you’re getting a good deal is comparison shopping for the best benefits and understanding how to protect yourself. “The single most important thing a gig worker can do to protect their rights and interests in the workplace is to negotiate aggressively for the best contract possible upfront,” Abernethy said. That includes asking about any benefits, including any discounts that will lower the day-to-day costs of plying your trade.
While your expected take home pay is your top concern, you should keep an eye out for red flags. The biggest thing to look out for, according to Abernethy, is a non-compete clause that could make it harder to find another job in the future. “If the employer asks you to sign a contract that contains any sort of ‘non-compete,’ or ‘non-solicitation’ clause, you should really get legal advice before you sign.”
We’ve taken a close look at some of the top incentives offered to gig economy workers to help you choose a company that will best reward you for your efforts. Here are some of the benefits you can expect.
“Dashers” at DoorDash deliver products like restaurant food or items from local businesses. Perks like the use of company’s new fleet of electric bikes, so dashers don’t need their own wheels, as well as weekly paychecks, so they get paid faster than the standard biweekly schedule at many workplaces, Eitan Bencuya, DoorDash’s head of communication, said in an email.