Working Parents In Gig Economy

dr Barbara Godlewska-Bujok,

dr hab. Krzysztof Walczak

University of Warsaw,

Faculty of Management

Domain: Law

 

Working Parents In Gig Economy

Gig economy is a new phenomenon in terms of the structure of the labour market. It emerged (among other reasons) as a result of global changes to economies, shifts in economics geography, telecommunication revolution and focus on the cost-based approach to the global and local markets. Gig economy phenomenon affects new employment model. So far known order is replaced with model based on uncertainty and risk. >From the perspective of employees and workers those processes mean often uncertainty and risk-based forms of performance of jobs. This uncertainty concerns not only security issues, but also, and predominantly, the future of work and the future of their own, including their families. This uncertainty as the immanent part of the present cannot be addressed as far as we don’t know what are the next stages of the development of markets.

 

Even if we know more and more on the gig economy mechanisms, some aspects still remain unravelled. We may think on the models of employment, the core of the definition of worker or employees, mutual obligations, remuneration and social insurance etc., but still in the debate on gig economy challenges the issue of parenthood of the working parents seems to be invisible or at least unaddressed. On one hand, we may see that gig economy platforms may enable to work in flexible times to reconcile parenthood responsibilities with working for the platform's clients, but on the other hand it is not clear whether it is parenting responsibilities that force parents to work in insecure and unstable conditions of platform economy.

 

European systems are quite generous in granting parental rights to employees, some of them offer particular forms of support to the workers, but the question is how to ensure the rights of persons who do not have the status of an employee or not even a worker (however they perform work for  clients of the platform? Is it important at all?

 

Parenthood for a certain group of people is extremely important and unique experience. Usually parental experience accompanies first or early professional career. In such conditions, the more important becomes to ensure an adequate level of protection for people who, due to the current state of economic development, are not covered by any form of support, and generally it depends only on the formal acquisition of the status of an employee or insured person. The type of work performed by people who work for platforms is generally no different from those who work under an employment relationship or self-employment scheme. What is the real and structural difference between the work of a taxi driver performing a self-employment job, performing work for a taxi enterprise as an employee or a Uber driver (for example, in Poland with no status, even nearing to an employee or contractor status). How different is his/her family life from life of others?

 

The answer for this question would set the priorities to be discussed on the level of security for those performing work outside of existing legal framework.

 

Reach of work-life balance is difficult enough if people are working in the framework of a “regular” market. By the way, a respectable controversy concerns the approach whether there is a work-life balance or maybe work-life conflict. Recently researchers start to talk on the work-life integration, but this definition concerns more the notion to maintaining privacy and right to disconnect from professional duties. The question is whether there is any way to assure security and minimum rights to persons who perform jobs in beyond standards.

It seems to be a one of possible solutions to determine conditions for persons working outside the standard to include them into collective agreements. In some countries, it is possible to conclude multi-company collective agreements for specific categories of persons performing work, not necessarily employees. It is especially important in the case of parental rights and entitlements, which are of great importance as  far as this issue touches the most intimate sphere of human life.

 The presentation would concentrate on the issue of parental rights and entitlements of persons working for the platform economy companies and on some examples of legal solutions addressing the problem.