Turning Back Clock To Uncertainty Of A ‘Gig Economy’

The rise of the “gig economy” — the world of part-time, free-lance, contingent workers such as Uber car drivers or contract software engineers — threatens to supplant an earlier model, in which long-term, stable employment with a single company was the norm.

“Contingent workers” now account for about 40.4 percent of the workforce, up from 30.6 percent in 2006, according to the Government Accountability Office. This trend arguably began sometime in the late 1990s, especially in the so-called New Economy. It intensified with the last recession. Indeed, the vast majority of new jobs being created are contingent, temporary gigs — precisely the opposite of what happened in the 1990s.

This new face of labor is anxiety-producing, but there’s not much new about it. In fact, the replacement of steady jobs by unpredictable gigs marks a return to what passed for normal for most of U.S. history. The gig economy was the economy.

In the late 18th century, most people worked on farms. Although many Americans owned land, contingent farm labor was commonplace, much as it was in England, where the rise of capitalism had created a class of casual wage laborers who moved from job to job and place to place.

In Massachusetts, cradle of the American Revolution, landless laborers traveled from farm to city and back again, piecing together jobs in a way that would seem familiar to today’s millennials. In 1770, one 20-something from Walpole, Mass., described how he had moved “from place to place for his living … for allmost [sic] two years past and hath nothing but his hands to get a living.”

The countryside was crawling with such people. In cities and towns, those fortunate enough to learn a trade enjoyed far greater privileges. But acquiring those skills required an apprenticeship with a master craftsman. The apprentice exchanged labor for room, board and training. This system was remarkably stable, involving a long-term relationship between master and apprentice that culminated when the trainee set up his own shop.

This system broke down as the Industrial Revolution gathered steam in the 19th century. The growing division of labor reduced once complex crafts to easy-to-master steps, each of which could be contracted out to contingent workers. Much of this production took place outside of conventional factories. Instead, employers would “put out” — in other words, subcontract — the labor to a faceless army of men and women, many of whom worked at home. A single pair of pants, for example, might tap the labor of 17 or 18 seamstresses and tailors working as subcontractors.

This was the gig economy, and it wasn’t pretty: Workers struggled to make ends meet, contending with an ever-changing number of employers, jobbers and other middlemen who hired them.

Much like today’s free-lancers, these laborers worked overtime to cobble together a living wage.

In the second half of the 19th century, growing numbers of laborers began toiling in large factories. This brought some stability to employment, but immoderate fluctuations in the business cycle, combined with seasonal changes in demand and in the availability of raw materials, put large numbers of people out of work on a regular basis.

While they waited to be hired or rehired, they often turned to odd jobs, unskilled labor and other forms of makeshift employment. Outside of salaried, white-collar work, which also was far more tenuous and unpredictable than it later became, most Americans had some experience with the gig economy.

This was especially true in extractive industries such as logging and mining, where seasonal, temporary and contract work remained the norm. The lives of these workers, chronicled by the historian Mark Wyman, reveal a world of contingent, flexible, contract laborers. These itinerants went by a host of derogatory names: hobos, bindlestiffs, floaters and tramps.

The 20th century brought some stability to the labor markets. Unions, combined with competing doses of corporate paternalism, joined workers and employers in long-term relationships. These arrangements, profoundly shaken by the Great Depression, would become commonplace in the postwar era.

The nature of work was transformed. In 1910, labor turnover was two or three times higher than in 1960. By the postwar era, a job for life seemed like a reasonable expectation; a job with benefits was the norm for a remarkable swath of the American workforce, though contingent, free-lance employment lived on in some areas of the economy such as migrant farm work.

This sea change can be glimpsed in census data on those who identify as self-employed. According to the economic historian Claudia Goldin, in 1910, 21.5 percent of the white men between the ages of 25 and 64 described themselves as self-employed. By 1940, that number had dropped to 14.9 percent; by 1990, it was 12.5 percent.

The number of such workers probably is on the rise again, and even those who hold full-time, steady work are starting to pad their earnings with free-lance work on the side.

 

Source: courant.com

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McLean-Based Hilton Worldwide to Hire 500 Work-From-Home Employees

McLean-Based Hilton Worldwide to Hire 500 Work-From-Home Employees

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. may be based out of McLean, but with more than 4,000 hotels in 94 countries worldwide, it’s planning to add another 500 employees who wouldn’t even need to leave their homes to come to work.

The global hospitality giant published a news release earlier this week announcing it plans to hire 500 full- and part-time work-from-home employees for positions in its reservations and customer support divisions. The positions are reportedly designed for stay-at-home parents, retirees, college students and military spouses in need of “portable careers.”

“We are committed to creating opportunities for meaningful employment and our work-from-home customer engagement model provides our team members with the freedom to enjoy a better work/life balance,” Mike Gathright, senior vice president of reservations and customer care, noted in the release.

The company also announced it would like to hire 10,000 military veterans by 2018, and these new work-from-home positions may contribute to reaching that goal.

“As Hilton Worldwide expands across the globe, our need for talented, passionate travel counselors grows,” Gathright said in the release. “This unique, virtual opportunity is a perfect fit for our hotels, our guests and our team members.”

 

Source: patch.com

Fact Sheet Paves Way for Remote Workers

 

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) has published an Information Sheet on changes being made to the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP), now known as the Community Development Program, due to take effect on 1 July.The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion announced in December 2014 that the RJCP would be reformed to deliver better opportunities for remote job-seekers and would foster stronger economic and social outcomes in remote Australia.

Details of new scheme released

These changes are designed to ensure job-seekers are active and contributing to their communities to make them better places in which to live.

The changes that take effect on 1 July include:

  • A requirement for all adults between 18 and 49 years who are not in work or study to undertake work-like activities for up to 25 hours per week, depending on their assessed capacity to work.
  • Training for job-seekers that is linked to a real job or their participation activities; no training for training’s sake.
  • A simple Job Plan with measures to support better attendance among job-seekers.
  • Community development through activities that make remote areas better places to live and that run over five days to support school attendance.
  • Stronger incentives for employers and providers to support job-seekers from the bush into lasting employment.
  • Funding for new enterprises that provide jobs and work experience opportunities in remote communities.
  • Reduced red tape and simplified processes for providers to allow them to focus on assisting job-seekers.
  • Grandfathered Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) Wages will wind down early; from 1 July, all job-seekers will be on the same system and will be treated in the same way.

PM&C said the implementation of the reforms to remote employment services would be carefully staged over a 12-month period, from 1 July.

 

 

Source: psnews.com.au

Small Talk: Half the Workforce Could be Freelance Soon, but Ministers Haven’t Noticed

Could one in two people really be working for themselves within five years? That’s the prediction of PeoplePerHour, an online platform that matches people looking to get jobs done with freelancers capable of doing them. It says that on current trends, more than 50 per cent of working people will be doing at least some freelance work, even if some of them also have a day job.

While PeoplePerHour has an obvious axe to grind here, the forecast is not so outlandish. The Office for National Statistics said last year that self-employment was running at a 40-year high, accounting for 15 per cent of workers. Other studies have put the figure even higher. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed says the number of freelancers has grown by 12 per cent over the past four years.

It’s easy to explain away the higher self-employment of recent years by saying that many freelancers would rather have taken jobs with employers had they been able to find them. But while this may account for some of the increase, there are other things going on too. Platforms such as PeoplePerHour make it easier for freelancers to source work, reducing the instability and uncertainty traditionally associated with self-employment. The availability of broadband and cloud-computing solutions make it more straightforward for people in many professions to work for themselves with little upfront capital investment.

In this new world of permanent connectivity, buyers want immediate fulfilment – but this requires a level of flexibility from suppliers that large corporations are often unable to offer. Agile freelance workers are able to respond instantly to customers’ needs – or, if they can’t, those customers will find someone who can.

Meanwhile purchasers are increasingly willing and able to break up the work they require into small, specialised chunks, sourcing each part from expert providers.

Just as changing working patterns will increase the demand for freelance and self-employed workers, so too is the supply likely to rise. Studies show that self-employed workers are more satisfied – a Populus survey published last year found that 84 per cent of self-employed people were happier with their jobs than they would be if they were employed, even though many of them earned less. They cited the ability to work at a time and a place of their choosing – a pattern of work more compatible with a decent work/life balance.

This large and growing chunk of the workforce has been overlooked by policymakers. While governments talk up their pro-business credentials and pledge support for small and medium-sized enterprises, you never hear them talk about the needs of freelancers or the self-employed. The result is that such workers are routinely ensnared in policy and legislation designed with other types of entity in mind. They get caught out by employment regulation, for example, or landed with tax regimes that do not fit their circumstances.

In extreme cases, freelancers even find themselves targeted by government. The IR35 legislation, for example, was introduced to stop people pretending they are freelancers as a tax planning strategy, but has landed thousands of self-employed people in a bureaucratic nightmare. If half of the working population is going to be working freelance within five years – even if only for some of the time – policymakers will need to address their needs.

Spike in rates appeal claims puts reform pledge at risk

The Government’s Valuation Office Agency’s pledge to resolve 95 per cent of outstanding business rates appeals by next month looks doomed to failure after a spike in claims. Some 201,000 businesses filed challenges to their bills in the first quarter, after the Treasury announced that only businesses making claims before 1 April would be allowed to backdate their appeals to April 2010, the last time that valuations were updated.

Jonathan Kinsey, the executive director of CBRE Rating, said the volume of appeals could prevent the VOA from preparing properly for the next revaluation, due for 2017, and also stymie attempts to overhaul the system. “Businesses have been promised a root-and-branch reform of the system,  but this shouldn’t come at the expense of those still waiting for a resolution to their claim,” he added.

Popularity of tax break scheme at record high

The number of small businesses aiming to raise funding via the Government’s tax-efficient Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) reached a new high last year. Analysis by Radius Equity suggests there were 2,925 applications during the 2014-15 tax year, with companies hoping to encourage investors through access to the tax incentives the scheme provides.

The popularity of EIS has risen since 2012, when the amount that companies could raise under the scheme rose to £5m. This effectively extended its reach to larger and more stable businesses. The number of companies using the EIS to raise cash has roughly doubled over the past five years.

With the first post-election Budget due next week, small business groups have called for the EIS to remain untouched.

“The EIS is one of the few schemes designed to increase funding to SMEs that has been a wholesale success,” said Gary Robins, a director of Radius. “It is now an important component in the funding of growth companies.”

Small Business Person of the Week: Galahad Clark, CEO, Vivobarefoot

“I’m a member of the Clark footwear family, but my intention had always been to avoid the shoe business. In the end, I got sucked in a different way.

“Around 12 years ago, a childhood friend of mine who blamed a series of injuries on his footwear came to me with a prototype for a barefoot shoe. The idea was to have a shoe with an ultra-thin but puncture resistant sole: your feet are incredibly complicated and well-designed, but traditional shoes undermine the way they are supposed to work, which is often why people get knee and back injuries.

“It took us several years to develop the idea, but by 2008, we were able to launch Vivobarefoot. The shoes were popular straight away, but in 2010 sales started to really take off. That was the year when so many people were reading Chris McDougall’s book Born to Run, and that year also saw Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard professor, publish research on the benefits of barefoot running in Nature.

“Last year we sold 350,000 pairs and we’re expecting a 30 per cent increase this year. Most of our shoes are made in China, but we also have a social enterprise project in Africa and a high-end manufacturing facility in Portugal.

“I’m definitely something of a black sheep in the Clark family, but many other members of the family wear our shoes. We’ve even tried to talk to Clark’s about partnerships on a couple of occasions, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

 

Source: independent.co.uk

Americans Are Working at Home More Than They Used To

Last year, on days when they worked, 23 percent of employed Americans worked at least part of the day at home, according to the American Time Use Survey, which was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this week. That’s up from 2003, the first year in which figures were recorded, when 19 percent of employed U.S. workers spent at least part of their working days doing their jobs from home.

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(Photo Credit: krzakptak/Flickr)

The 2014 American Time Use Survey included 11,600 Americans over the age of 15, who were interviewed throughout the year. Each individual was selected from households across the country that participate in the Current Population Survey, which is the monthly household labor force survey. Participants were asked to recount their activities from 4 a.m. on the day prior to the survey until 4 a.m. on the day of the interview.

The ATUS includes activities like personal care (e.g. sleeping, grooming), childcare, work, volunteering, leisure, etc. The results of the survey showed, among other things, that American workers are working at home more often, and for longer periods of time, than they did 10-plus years ago.

A few stats from the release:

    • On the days they worked, 85 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at their workplace and 23 percent did some or all of their work at home. Employed persons spent more time working at the workplace than at home – 8.0 hours compared with 3.2 hours.
    • From 2003 to 2014, the share of employed persons who did some or all of their work at home on days they worked increased from 19 percent to 23 percent. During this same period, the average time employed persons spent working at home on days they did so increased by 37 minutes.
  • Self-employed workers were nearly three times more likely than wage and salary workers to have done some work at home on days worked – 58 percent compared with 20 percent. Self-employed workers also were more likely to work on weekend days than were wage and salary workers 46 percent compared with 33 percent.
  • On the days they worked, 39 percent of employed people age 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher did some work at home, compared with only 12 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.

 

Source: payscale.com

Record 4.2MILLION People Work from Home and Another 1.8million Would Like To

Nearly 14% of employed people are home workers, up from 12% in 2005, the study for today’s National Work from Home Day showed

Man Laptop

Home working: It’s now more popular than ever

A record 4.2million people regularly work from home and 1.8million more would like to, says a TUC study.

The ranks of the stay-at-home workers have been swelled by 800,000 since 2005.

Nearly 14% of employed people are home workers, up from 12% in 2005, the study for today’s National Work from Home Day showed.

TUC boss Frances said home workers enjoy “a better work-life balance”.

The study is published to mark the tenth National Work from Home Day, which is organised by Work Wise UK, and shows that the South East and London have seen the greatest growth in home working in the last decade.

The findings also show that homeworking is disproportionately taken up by men (62.8%), partly because they outnumber women in self-employment, where more than two-thirds of workers are men (68%).

Working from home

Homeworking is less common in the public sectors than might be expected, with just 8% in health and 7% in education working from home.

Unsurprisingly, the wired-up information and communications industry has above average homeworking (17.7%), while other white collar industries like the professional, scientific and technical sector (16%) and real estate (14.4%) also do well.

In contrast, only 7% of retail staff work from home. The growth of online shopping has replaced counter staff with warehouse workers.

The ability to work from home is also strongly associated with occupational seniority, with one in five managers working from home (20%),

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “These figures show millions of British workers have adopted homeworking and are enjoying a better work-life balance, while saving time and money on costly commuting that benefits no-one.

“Although organisations that have embraced homeworking often say that it has improved retention and productivity, there are still too many employers who are afraid to let their staff try out this way of working.

 Frances O'Grady
Frances O’Grady: Better work/life balance

“As the labour market tightens, National Work from Home Day is a useful reminder for employers to think about keeping their employees engaged by introducing more employee-friendly forms of flexibility for those who want to change how and where they perform their work.”

And Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “While there has been a significant increase in regular homeworking since 2005, clearly more needs to be done to convince some employers that implementing new working practices can result in a win-win situation for both their business and their employees.

“Thanks to modern technology, introducing efficient flexible working processes can be done both quickly and easily, but trust in transition remains a major issue.

“Work is something you do, not somewhere you go, and adopting a flexible culture has been proven to cut down on wasted time and cost.

“Trust, and perceived impact on culture, are however the main barriers to change, not technology.”

 

Source: mirror.co.uk

Increase in Essex ‘Home Workers’ as Commuters Grow Tired of Travel Chaos

One in seven people in Britain are choosing to work from home to avoid a wretched daily commute, official figures have shown.

The first-ever analysis by the Office for National Statistics of ‘home workers’ reveals how the number has ballooned over the last 16 years, jumping by nearly 45 per cent.

The news comes as more and more people in Essex are working from home, with rocketing rail fares and fuel prices making it increasingly expensive to commute to the office.

Just this week, rail unions blasted the Government’s shortlist of firms listed to run the region’s train network for up to 11 years.

The top three include former rail operator National Express, current operator Abellio Greater Anglia and FirstGroup, which runs the majority of the county’s bus network.

But Abellio has been consistently hammered by customers in the last 12 months, as commuter-watchdog CommuteLondon revealed it received 72, 861 negative tweets in 2014 – more than any other London rail provider.

John Philpott, director of work think tank, The Jobs Economist, suggested Britain’s ageing population is fuelling the trend, with more older people needing to work, but preferring to do it from home.

He said: “More older people are seeking to avoid the daily commute and the stresses of office life.”

The number of homeworkers is likely to keep on rising with new rules set to come into force later this month making it easier for people to work from home.

Starting on June 30, all workers will be able to request the right to work flexibly, which could mean anything from a three-day week to only working during the school term time as well as working from home.

Source: essexchronicle.co.uk

Work-from-home Scam with a LinkedIn Twist

 FRESNO – (INT) – BBB has received reports that work-from-home scams are targeting job-seeking individuals harder than ever with a new twist of using a professional networking platform.

In an attempt to make their potential victims feel more at ease and to make the job offer more credible, scammers direct individuals to LinkedIn profiles belonging to recruitment staff from legitimate companies.

BBB has analyzed consumer reports and complaints regarding this scam and can tell you that majority of these work-from-home job offers involve transferring money to various bank accounts as part of the ‘payroll deposit’ job description. In some cases they involve re-shipping packages with unknown content.

Victims of work-from-home scams don’t realize that they are aiding cyber criminals in transferring stolen money or helping re-ship illegal or contraband goods. Both activities are unlawful and are subjected to prosecution.

Not all victims of work-from-home scams end up in criminal court, many find themselves dealing with ID theft, maxed-out credit cards and cleaned out savings accounts.

 

Source: inlandnewstoday.com

 

Freelancer App Wins First Event Tech ‘Hackathon’

StaffMatch, which allows planners to hire and rate temporary staff, named winners at London Tech Week kick off

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An app allowing event organisers to hire and rate temporary freelance staff has been named as the winner of the inaugural #EventTechHack.

Billed as the world’s first event technology hackathon, the competition helped kick off London Tech Week at Campus London, Google’s start-up incubator in Shoreditch, and saw software developers, user interface designers and event professionals team up to develop new ideas for applications in event technology software.

The StaffMatch app, created by Samir Pekaz, Javier Gomez, Michael Bishop, and Tessema Tesfachew, was judged the best entry based on criteria including potential impact the application could have on the events industry, its feasibility in terms of implementation and how innovative the application is within the current event technology landscape.

Judges Peter Kerwood, Concerto Group; Robert Dunsmore, GES EMEA; Julius Solaris, Event Manager Blog; Gary Dalal, Apptology and Ivan Garcia, Pickevent, gave runners up awards to Suggest Event, JumpThe Queue and Crowd View Live.

Peter Kerwood, marketing director of sponsor Concerto Group said: “Encouraging innovation in the event technology space is not only vital for Concerto to further reinforce event technology into our company culture but also to advance the quality of events in the United Kingdom. Sponsoring an event that has creativity at its heart is something that the Concerto Group fully supports. The quality of the entries demonstrated the creativity as well as the interest of the developer community in event technology.” 

 

Source: meetpie.com

Better Business Bureau flags 7 Atlantic Canada work-at-home Offers

The Better Business Bureau has identified seven companies, each making a similar offer for project co-ordinator, project manager or project administrator positions. The companies are reaching out to job seekers who have posted resumes online.

Some people across the country are getting offers for high-paying, work-at-home schemes from companies that claim to be based in Atlantic Canada.

The Better Business Bureau has identified seven companies, each making a similar offer for project co-ordinator, project manager or project administrator positions. Some of the work in the job description may involve co-ordinating student travel.

The companies that are reaching out to job seekers who have posted resumes online:

  • Aboriginal Exchange Program
  • Canadian Education Exchange Foundation (CEEF)
  • National Student Exchange Program/World Education Program
  • School Year and Summer Group Exchange
  • SEVECC Community Involvement Program
  • World Capital Alliance
  • Canadian Education Student Exchange Foundation

Peter Moorhouse, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Atlantic Canada, calls it a classic “too good to be true” scenario.

“It is $45 an hour going up to $50 an hour after a two or three-week period,” he said.

“They are, in some cases, approaching students who have no work experience at all. And you know that’s a pretty generous salary for somebody with no particular experience.”

He says, in each case, the company is not actually located at the address it claims — and efforts to reach people at the company in person, on the telephone, or through email or regular mail all come up empty.

In addition, he said two of the companies on the list are legitimate organizations, but their names are being used without permission. Neither the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation (CEEF), nor the SEVECC Community Involvement Program are currently hiring for the positions described in the suspect offers.

Moorhouse said another big red flag is that new employees are asked to open a new bank account.

Risky business

In other scams he’s encountered, Moorhouse said bank accounts are used to deposit cheques that end up bouncing, leaving the employee on the hook after a portion of the money is withdrawn and wired to the scammer.

While people who have complained to the Better Business Bureau have not been taken for any money, Moorhouse says the company has released the results of its investigation to inform vulnerable job seekers.

“Even though we don’t really know what the company is trying to accomplish … we do sense that there is something going on here that’s a little bit bigger and they’re getting set up for something perhaps a little bit more risky,” he said.

Moorhouse said once people started asking questions to their contact at the company, communication stopped.

So far, he said the worst-case scenario for people who have complained to the Better Business Bureau is non-payment for work completed.

 

Source: cbc.ca