Gig Workers with Disabilities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Regulatory Response

Paul Harpur & Peter Blanck

Harpur, P., Blanck, P. (2020). Gig Workers with Disabilities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Regulatory Response. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09937-4


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Purpose This article examines gig work—typified by technologically-based, on-demand, independent contractor arrangements—for people with disabilities. Methods To do so, it draws upon prior and current research to describe the nature of gig work for people with disabilities, as well as the challenges and new prospects that such work presents. It also discusses recent regulatory reforms and proposes improvements, particularly in light of the current pandemic. Results Participation in the traditional employment market for people with disabilities who can and wish to work remains limited, even when workplace accommodations and individualized adjustments are possible. Increasingly, though, self-directed or independently contracted work is a way for people with disabilities to participate in the mainstream economy. The “gig economy,” in particular, has provided additional opportunities for self-directed work, although the novel coronavirus pandemic has required existing approaches to be reconceived. Conclusions The gig economy provides new prospects, as well as challenges, for people with disabilities to engage in meaningful work. It also requires innovative regulatory responses to the gig work relationship, especially during the pandemic era.

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