Freelancers have figured out how to run their own small businesses since way before the gig economy was a thing. This is nothing new, it’s just a hot topic because traditional 9–5 employment is collapsing, and gig-workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurship are exploding in popularity to fill the void.
If you’re a freelancer, you better damn well be making more than your equivalent employee, because you’ve always had to pay for your own holiday time, sick leave, and retirement plan. That in itself isn’t employers taking advantage of contractors. If you decide to be a contractor you should know what you’re getting into.
The problem is, most new gig-workers don’t take their role as small business owners seriously (or at all) or don’t consider it a full-time career option. But of course it can be, if you switch your mindset from working gigs to running a freelance business. And part of running a successful freelance business is planning to look after yourself, since you don’t have employer benefits to do it for you.
In the end, that transition will probably be a good thing. More independent people who have greater control over their work and careers.