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The biggest benefits system for gig workers is still tiny

Workers who aren’t classified as employees, but rather as independent contractors, have no protections under social safety net programs such as Social Security and unemployment insurance, and their employers do not typically provide benefits such as health insurance. Constructing a benefits system for these independent workers has become a more pressing issue as the number of people who fall into the category grows.

Care.com, which facilitates connections between families seeking caregivers and providers, today announced its solution: a $500 limited benefit for workers whose employers pay them through the website.

The company will divert two percentage points of the 12% transaction fee that it charges families for transactions into a fund that workers can use to pay for health care, transportation, or education. Workers can withdraw up to $500 per year (though the benefit can accrue beyond that).

It’s not quite the social safety net provided to workers classified as employees, but, to my knowledge, it’s the first time that a technology company has even attempted to offer a benefit—not merely a discount or an app—to the independent workers who depend on its product.SK