The gig economy has significantly altered the traditional employer-employee relationship, leaving many gig workers without the protections afforded to traditional employees, such as access to health insurance, unemployment benefits, and retirement savings plans. Gig workers, often classified as independent contractors, are responsible for providing their own safety net, which can be challenging given the unpredictable nature of gig work and fluctuating income streams.

One of the most significant gaps for gig workers is access to health insurance. Unlike traditional employees who may receive employer-sponsored health coverage, gig workers typically must purchase their own insurance policies. However, the cost of individual health insurance plans can be prohibitive, especially for those with low or inconsistent incomes. Additionally, gig workers may not have access to other benefits often bundled with traditional employment, such as dental and vision coverage or employer contributions to health savings accounts.

Gig workers generally do not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, as they are not employees of the companies they work for but rather independent contractors. This lack of unemployment protection leaves gig workers vulnerable during periods of reduced or disrupted income, such as when demand for their services decreases or platforms change their algorithms or policies. Without a safety net to fall back on, gig workers may face financial hardship during periods of unemployment

Saving for retirement is another challenge for gig workers, as they often lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s. Without employer contributions or retirement benefits, gig workers must proactively save for retirement through individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or other personal savings vehicles. However, the irregular income and expenses associated with gig work can make saving for retirement more difficult and less predictable.

Given these challenges, gig workers must seek out alternative avenues for accessing benefits and protections.) The AFE offers membership benefits that can help fill some of these gaps. AFE membership benefits include access to resources and services that gig workers may find valuable, such as:

Healthcare Advocacy Programs:

AFE members enjoy access to healthcare advocacy programs that can help navigate the complexities of the healthcare system, negotiate medical bills, and find affordable healthcare options.

Discounts on Health Services:

AFE membership plans offer discounts on healthcare services, prescriptions, and wellness products, helping to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of healthcare for gig workers.

Legal and Financial Services:

Membership in AFE provides access to legal and financial services, such as consultations with attorneys or financial advisors, which can help gig workers address legal and financial challenges they may encounter in their work.

While these benefits can provide valuable support to gig workers, they are not a substitute for comprehensive social safety net protections. Addressing the lack of protections for gig workers requires policy solutions that recognize the changing nature of work and provide avenues for gig workers to access benefits such as healthcare, unemployment insurance, and retirement savings in a way that reflects the realities of modern employment.


Article by
Katie Hoge
Content Writer and Researcher

Katie Hoge, a young white woman with long brown hair