Friday, January 19, 2018
Technology is crushing traditional jobs. The command-and-control factory is being replaced by robots. Banks are rapidly removing pen-pusher jobs by the tens of thousands!!! For those with an economic bent, the Milton Friedman-type assumptions about how an economy operates are dead!
What’s taking over is the ‘gig’ economy. But what is it? It’s pretty simple really.
Traditional jobs (Friedman assumed) involved an employer having a legal ‘right to control’ an employee. The gig economy does away with this wage-slave-like setup. Instead, the contractual relationships are entirely commercial. The on-line business platforms that facilitate this are many. For example, Uber (ride sharing), Airbnb (accommodation), Amazon (manufacturing and retailing), Airtasker (home and other services) operate like stock markets.
The platforms connect people wanting something (for example, to buy shares) to people delivering something (for example, selling shares). The platforms facilitate and manage the commercial transactions including invoicing, payments and so on. Every transaction is commercial.
If you’re scared of this, well, move over and crawl into a hole!!! Some people claim it’s a crisis and we have to regulate this quickly as if its employment.
- In London, an ‘Employment Tribunal’ has declared that Uber drivers are employees of Uber. Uber is appealing this.
- In France and Germany, they have imposed employee-style regulations on Uber to protect the taxi industry from competition.
- In the UK, an official UK government review, the Taylor Report, has recommended employment-style regulation be imposed on gig workers.
But other jurisdictions are being positive:
- Florida has introduced laws securing the gig ride-sharing model as legitimate. Part of the law prevents the app company (for example, Uber) stopping the gig workers (drivers) from working for a competitor. In other words, the law enforces the commercial model.
- Victoria is introducing “Australia’s first fully open and competitive commercial passenger vehicle regulatory model”. The law treats gig workers/drivers as commercial operators regulating them in the same way as other commercial operators/drivers such as taxi drivers.
And, in a major development, the Australian Fair Work Commission has just declared an Uber driver to not be an employee. This makes sense.
The importance of properly approaching the gig economy cannot be underestimated. To fail to embrace it is to be a wrecker of opportunity and an oppressor of people.
This is one reason why we attacked the Australian Taxation Office hard late last year over its removal of Australian Business Numbers from 16 gig economy workers. Yes, we were damn angry with the stupidity of the ATO and succeeded in having the ABNs reinstated. Now that were a bit calmer, we’ve summarized the ‘transcribers’ case here.
And we’ve just added a new piece about how this transcribers case relates to the gig economy.
Remember, this ATO-style attack can happen to anyone. The ATO has gone rabid on this. You need protection. Check it out here.