You probably might not know what a gig economy is so I will start off with that. A gig economy is when the operating environment or the market is marked by widespread short-term contractual agreements or freelancing. So in essence businesses or companies are more given over to getting their work done by independent contractors or freelancers. This means there will be a shift from the usual norm of hiring full-time employees. Indications are that the gig economy is expanding globally; even locally. One of the obvious reasons why most people now prefer to work this way is the room to operate independently without the bureaucracies that tend to come with full-time employment. However, working this way can present lots of problems for you and that is why I am penning down this article on how you can protect yourself.

Have Written And Signed Contracts

This is very important because it will protect you legally. It will impress the right motivation on the other party to pay their dues when you have completed your assigned tasks. Written contracts even help in the stipulation of and adherence to fair practice in how you will work. It can be wise to seek the assistance of lawyers in this regard. Most people engage into verbal contracts or agreements which might not hold water in the event of disputes erupting.

Have Insurance Cover Where Applicable

This will depend on the nature of work that you do as a freelancer or independent contractor. Due to that I would advise you to find out from insurance companies how best you can get insured for your line of business. Not only will this protect you from incidentals but it will also beef up your public perception. People are more comfortable knowing that they are giving work to someone with insurance cover for what they do.

Negotiate And Document Payment Terms

Often times people are victims of late payments or no payments at all. This can be a very crippling blow on the independent contractor or freelancers because they will be in dire need of the money. To curb this you must come up with ways of ensuring you get paid timeously and fully. You could stipulate a down payment of a particular percentage of the total (e.g. 50%) before the commencement of work. You can stipulate batch payments in line with the nature of work you will be doing. This is up to your discretion and what you will agree with the other party. This takes us back to the issue of written contracts because they are central to this. Sensitive issues such as payment terms and other related issues must be comprehensively outlined in written and signed contracts. If the other party is hesitant about signing a contract then chances are that they might be problematic to work with.

Ascertain Creditworthiness Beforehand

In as much as you can be desperate to land working engagements do proper due diligence prior. One of the most critically important things you must check on the other party is creditworthiness. Essentially you want proof that this person or business is worth your time and effort. Do they have a proven track record? What prior working arrangements have they entered and honoured before? So as a freelancer or independent contractor request for trade references that can be tangibly proven so that you know this party has what it takes to honour your intended working agreement. You would not want a scenario where you enter a working agreement with a party that will start giving excuses once payment is due. Had you diligently requested for trade references prior you could have noted red flags that would have saved you from the trouble you will now be in.

These are some of the ways in which you can protect yourself in the gig economy. The growth of the gig economy has been largely enhanced by the internet and social media. Thus the trend is set to continue going forward and everyone must position and align themselves strategically. In the USA for example, within just the next 4 years it is said 4 out of every 10 working-class people will be freelancers. It is actually projected that in the next 6 years online platforms will add almost US$3 trillion to the global GDP. So the contents of this article are important because chances you are already an active player in the gig economy or you shall soon be.