Research has shown that gig workers are among the workers most impacted by the pandemic, with almost 70% saying they are now entirely without income. Over half of gig workers have lost their jobs and more than a quarter have seen their hours cut.
Naby Mariyam is the founder of Coverhero; an insurtech startup which was built to protect all workers by insuring them in a simple and easy manner. Ms Mariyam herself is an entrepreneur, and believes that those in the gig economy are not being given appropriate protection.
“Insurance is designed for corporates by corporates,” she says. “As we see it, it does not cater for the needs of self employed people. Self employed people are going to make up half the population by 2025 and they need to be covered.”
While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc among the self-employed, the sector has still continued to grow. This is due to people being stood down from corporate roles and going out on their own as the job market contracts. Along with a growing gig economy, entrepreneurs are risking more and more as a means to survive as Australia heads towards a recession. As gig workers classified as ‘contractors’ they are very often unable to access workplace benefits.
“Until now, anyone self-employed or in the gig economy has had to forego income protection and just hope they don’t get sick. So now we’re covering COVID-19, making it possible for the Australian casualised and contingent workforce to self isolate and recover without worrying about the impact on their earnings” says Ms Mariyam.
Aptly named, Hustle Cover by Coverhero launched in January this year to protect the finances and wellbeing of gig workers. When COVID-19 hit, it began assisting business owners like Carl Gough, founder of Meet Magic to operate with confidence. The business helps charities raise funds by connecting business development executives from technology companies with senior IT decision makers who request a donation is made to their favourite good cause.
Gough employs a number of casual workers in the business and Hustle Cover provides the safety net his contractors need; “If you’re as clumsy as I am, you will know that accidents do happen, especially if you’re juggling the demands of a working life at home. I wanted to protect my income and the income of my team, because as COVID-19 has proved, life is very unpredictable. And as Meet Magic grows, I’m making sure my expanding team is covered for anything unforeseen as well.”
Ms Mariyam has built Hustle Cover to be underpinned by empathy, saying that it is important to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
“Having the lived experience of having multiple incomes from multiple jobs and not having financial security has made me realise gig workers are exploited,” she says. “People should be able to follow their dreams and be entrepreneurs without the fear of losing their security.”