Here are a number of challenges posed by the gig economy and their corresponding countermeasures or solutions to address them:
(i) Job insecurity
– Gig workers are concerned about the long term beyond the contract expiry date. This is especially true for job-seeking mature PMETs who have known job security and company loyalty all their life. Companies have begun to address this by offering the assurance of conversion to permanent hire upon successful completion of the contract term. In addition, the government’s tripartite workgroup has proposed changes like helping with Medisave savings, insurance to protect against the loss of income, standards for contracts and support on pay disputes.
(ii) Lower sense of belonging to a company
– Adding on to the previous point, contract roles usually present a high turnover rate and hence a lower sense of belonging to a company. The conversion to permanent roles would allow employers to better assess the mature PMET’s cultural and technical fit to the company, which is akin to a trial employment and allows the full evaluation of a hire beyond a regular job interview process.
(iii) Lack of employee benefits
– Contract jobs are typified by the lack of corporate benefits (eg. health insurance, transport allowance etc.). There are companies offering higher than market rate salary, equal benefits as permanent hires, completion bonuses and flexi-benefits.
(iv) Irrelevant job scope
– There has been a shift from generalist to specialist requirements for short-term roles. Mature PMETs may take this opportunity to pick up new skills (through SkillsFuture or PCP) and further their expertise while working gigs, so as to stay relevant and qualify for future jobs.
The following measures can be taken by job-seeking mature PMETs to ensure a smooth transition to a gig role:
(i) Ensure adequate healthcare insurance in the absence of medical benefits, especially critical illnesses.
(ii) Purchase a term life policy to protect one’s family in case something happens.
(iii) Budgeting to reduce monthly expenses and if possible, set aside an emergency fund for at least six months of essential expenses.
(iv) Create a payment process with regular invoicing and partial payments for milestones in a longer contract.
(v) Separate personal and business accounts and draw a regular salary.
(vi) Save for large expenses in the future like children’s education and retirement.
(vii) Re-invest excess income or set up sources of passive income.
(viii) Take courses or attend conferences to keep up with the latest development in your primary field and also to network.