It is not the future of employment. It is already the present. Freelancers, teleworkers, employees on demand, by the hour, by projects … The traditional organization of work is dying and unconventional, independent and intermittent income jobs have come to stay with the new digital platforms (gig economy). In the European Union, this type of work grows at rates much higher than the rest, going from employing 23% of people between 25 and 39 in 1995 to 32% in 2016, which indicates that in 2030 it could be majority, according to the study carried out by the non-profit association that explores the impact of technology on society Ouishare for Cotec.
Spain, a labor market that is leading the phenomenon of temporary hiring (and one of the shortest European contractual durations), can easily become one of the main fishing grounds of this job (it is starting to do so). Today, nine out of ten contracts signed are temporary and four out of ten have a duration of less than one month. In total, 43% of new hires are for a specified duration or for a shorter than normal working day.
The new profiles will not be subject to an eight-hour day like the vast majority of Spanish indefinite employees; on the contrary, they will have several sources of income and much lower levels of protection, which leads Ouishare to inquire about the social protection formulas that should be created to cover them and avoid the increasing precariousness to which the platforms are contributing, as you are checking in Glovo, Uber or Deliveroo cases. In the absence of a legislative response at the moment, platforms are also being created to provide that security, whether in the form of specific insurance, grouping and representation systems, or work and training tools with which to defend themselves. “When labor continuity is broken”, appreciates the head of Ouishare, Albert Cañigueral, “it must be rebuilt, as Glovo or Deliveroo riders are doing, organizing to defend their rights and who knows if starting what will become the guilds from the future”. But if we want the precarious way in which this new job is being structured to stop being so, we must give them rights that do not penalize them, he adds.
Micro workers or ‘clic workers’. At the lowest scale of employment, work by task, are platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, Clickworker or CloudFactory, which are not very active in Spain.
On demand. Among the specific tasks and with physical delivery, Uber, Deliveroo or Cuideo stand out.
‘Blue collar’. Hourly and temporary jobs for industry and services at CornerJob, JobToday or Wonolo.
’Freelancers’. Works by project. Freelancer, Wisar, PeoplePerHour, SoyFreelancer or Malt. There are more than 500 in the world, says Wisar CEO Sandra Arévalo, and they grow at 70% annually.
Although the platforms to intermediate between the supply and demand of this flexible work multiply, its use is still marginal. It is estimated that between 1% and 3% of the workforce generates income through them. In Spain, 17% of the working-age population obtain money from platforms at least once a week; It is one of the countries where this work model is being developed the most, especially in the south of the country, where unemployment levels are very high, explains Cañigueral.
The truth is that there are endless new operators on the market. They offer from microworkers (online micro-task platforms) to workers on demand such as those from Glovo, Cabify or MyPoppins; there are portals focused on the so-called blue collar staff, such as CornerJob, Wonolo or JobToday; or from freelancers and white-collar workers (projects or assignments are delivered remotely) such as UpWork, Freelancer or Wisar and more specialized ones such as TopTal, UpCounsel, Catalant, FieldEngineer; even PwC has its consultant platform, TalentExchange. The amalgam is huge.
And it is that there is less and less employment and it is less and less standard, says Luz Rodríguez, professor of Labor Law at the University of Castilla-La Mancha and collaborator of Cotec, who stresses that not all platforms offer precarious jobs; in fact, the most active are those that mediate projects for specialized professionals who work when and how much they want, he says. This is how Wisar works, which manages 1,000 daily offers where hourly prices range from 15 to 200 euros depending on the candidate’s experience, explains its CEO, Sandra Arévalo. As in the case of Freelancer, the most demanded services are graphic design, translation and programming, says Sebastián Siseles, its vice president.
However, Rodríguez thinks that the great challenge is to arbitrate social protection for all workers, regardless of the contract model available to them. The ILO is working on it, but believes that the European Union should also intervene to expand fundamental rights, such as health at work, non-discrimination or organizing in defense of the own interests of atypical workers. “Let’s create rights to apply to everyone, contrary to what the new directive on working conditions has done, which has excluded the self-employed,” he explains.
There are already social protection experiences for platform workers in some countries, such as a driver’s compensation fund in New York State, paid for with a 2.5% surcharge on customer fees. Or the portable benefits of the American network of caregivers Alia, which finance clients with an extra cost, and can be used in the event of sick leave or vacation. The British Government is testing the pensions and savings of self-employed workers. We must find ways to equalize the rights of these workers to protect the most vulnerable.
The lack of protection of intermittent workers has also favored the creation of self-organized groups to defend their interests, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, but also in the Spanish messaging sector: Riders X Derechos. In Europe the Transnational Federation of Drivers has been created. Representative groups that have organized strikes in Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Argentina or Colombia. In general, to improve the conditions of food delivery platform delivery drivers and drivers.