Pay Fairness Among Full-Time, Part-Time, and Gig Workers

With the increasing ‘uberization’ of work, companies are seeing the homogeneity of the workforce reduction. Workers span across the traditional full-time and part-time workers as well as the latest entrants to the workplace –the gig workers.

Considering that the contributions of people vary widely, so do the pay and benefits that they are entitled to. This has sparked a debate around fairness in recent times. Of course, the workforce experience (Wx) is one of the variables for each of these three categories, but one of the biggest issues is that of pay fairness.

In terms of pay, there are two broad components –salary and benefits.

Typically, gig workers and part-time workers have the flexibility to work multiple jobs and the potential to increase their overall earnings to much higher levels than full-timers. However, based on legal and other reasons, they often lag behind the market in terms of the benefits applicable to them. For example, unless a part-time worker clocks a certain number of hours a week/month, they may not have access to affordable healthcare, under law. Similarly, health and other benefits are rarely ever extended to gig workers.

In addition, by treating the three categories of workers as very different from each other, companies end up creating confusion regarding pay where everyone feels like they are getting a raw deal. In such an environment, how do companies ensure that they are able to not only be fair to their people but also ensure that they communicate about fairness adequately?

1. Pay above living wage to everyone. Irrespective of any other employment or contracts an individual has, the company needs to take accountability to pay them a rate that translates into a respectable wage as per the location.

2. Undertake a pay benchmarking study to understand how to adequately compensate each category of workers. In case part-time or gig workers are being hired for niche skills or to fulfill urgent needs, they may need to be paid differentially higher as well.

3. Evaluate the benefits landscape. Gig and part-time workers are especially prone to disruptions and loss of income due to accidents, sickness, or other unforeseen events. Create a benefits package that compares favorably with the market and protects the interests of your people. For example, you can even introduce co-pay options for some benefits to keep costs down but support your workforce.

4. Communicate regularly and explain pay decisions to people. Regular employees may feel that gig and part-time workers earn disproportionately higher wages, and the latter may feel that the former have lots of benefits.

Some of the ‘low-cost’ and ‘no-cost’ ways to create an inclusive organization is to make some HR policies more user-friendly:

a. Consider extending your referral policy with bonuses beyond regular employees. It will make other people feel rewarded and recognized for their contributions without burdening you with the extra expense.

b. In case you have a BYOD (bring your own device) or flex work policy, adapt it to include gig and part-time workers. For example, you could add a small monthly stipend towards internet or phone costs as well as for using a coworking space.

c. Modify your performance management policy to award merit increases or even promotions to gig and part-time workers. In case anyone is contributing as a high-potential, they can be given a higher role and actually save you the cost of hiring a new person.
d. Support gig and part-time workers in career development through learning programs and opportunities to seek permanent employment with your company.
e. Provide recognition across categories so that you can motivate and engage your workforce. It will increase the sense of fairness and also create a collaborative mindset.
Irrespective of the mechanisms that you work on creating, the key thing about fairness is timely two-way communication. Stay tuned to what people want and need and create systems to support them.
Not sure where to start with creating fair pay and working conditions for your people? Reach out to us at [email protected]

About the Author

Sumit Singla 

Founder of eleventHR Consulting.

Sumit has been working in HR & HR consulting roles for 16+
years across sectors and verticals and specializes in
organization design, wellbeing, storytelling & design thinking, and performance management. In his career with consulting firms such as Aon, Deloitte, and Accenture, he has successfully led programs aimed at total HR transformation for clients.

 Recently, as Associate Director for India Consulting at Deloitte, he worked with clients on cultural transformation and HR process and policy design. He also organized and spoke at conferences and events about a variety of topics relevant to HR today.

Now self-employed, he works with clients across the globe on a variety of HR solution areas.

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