Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Prasanna Tambe


This paper aims to analyze how employee benefits, working conditions, and compensation affect the decision-making processes of two major players in the gig economy: the worker and the technology platform. Data, literature reviews, and academic papers were used to analyze the positive and negative attributes of gig work globally, the South African legislative and regulatory environment pertaining to the gig economy, and the motivations of gig platforms.

Much of the secondary research pointed to the fact that gig workers universally face potentially worse working conditions than their traditionally-employed counterparts, there has been a decline in the South African worker’s power in the labor market partly due to the weakness of direct state intervention, and thus collective action/organization by gig workers may be the best (or only) recourse for gig working conditions to improve.

A necessary step for any collective mobilization of gig workers is to understand the most prominent motivating and discouraging factors of gig work in the mind of the gig worker. Based on the information collected from a survey of gig workers primarily based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the respondents of interest ranked the advantages of gig work as follows (from most to least important): income, flexible working hours, independence, ability to grow skillsets due to greater exposure and variety of tasks, lowered risk of job and income loss. Their ranked disadvantages of gig work are as follows: inconsistent income, lack of employment benefits, social isolation, and stress.

The additional needs and preferences reported by respondents in the survey ranged from receiving a travel allowance (to cover transportation costs) and loss of income insurance (security) to increased benefits and up-front deposits from clients. Some respondents noted that further support and training from clients would be beneficial and that they should receive fairer treatment. A concern for some freelancers was the scarcity of gigs and others lacked a sense of purpose in their day-to-day work.


South Africa, gig economy, freelance, unemployment, policy, motivation, informal economy, technology



Date Posted: 09 October 2020


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