There are new types of employment that have been created from start-ups and/or digital platforms, that involve new forms of employment. Increasingly, companies need more flexible workers with digital skills who can adapt to their business model.

Society is changing and so is the traditional concept of work, but at what stage is public administration at? Are these changes being taken into account to create new regulations and a new legal framework? In this post we will see how the European Commission, the Generalitat of Catalunya and the Barcelona City Council are facing the challenges of the gig economy.

On 26th and 27th of September, 2019 we were at the Reshaping Work event in Barcelona. We attended forums for dialogue between professionals, academics, companies, organisations and digital platform workers on how each of them is facing the future of work.

Automation, digital transformation and new jobs

One of the key questions is how the automation of processes and digital transformation is affecting workers and investors. To address these questions, we have different versions of public administration.

The European Commission

For Lucia Velasco, spokesperson for the European Commission, this institution is in the process of change and there are many challenges being faced. She states that digital platforms are growing and that the European Union is gaining an understanding of how they work. According to Lucia, society looks closely at companies like Uber or Glovo but the reality is that “not all digital platforms and new employees are drivers or riders.”

In fact, Lucia emphasises that digital platforms can also be companies like Netflix or Spotify and points out that we are in a new digital world, where lines are blurred and different fields can be confused.

The European Commission considers this type of work as “other type of employment” and to regulate them the objective is to:

  • Provide more protection for digital platform workers.
  • Enhance the digital skills of workers who lack them so that they can compete within this new digital environment.

“Traditional companies can also provide flexibility and help groups at social risk.”

Lucía Jones, European Commission.

The Generalitat of Catalunya

Enric Vinaixa, Director General of Labour Relations and Quality in the Department of Labour, Social Affairs and Families of the Generalitat de Catalunya, states that this institution “has a range of skills, although not all those needed, because the majority belong to the State”.

The Generalitat accepts that there is a new labour market related to new technologies and business models. Currently, discussion is being generated because “there still isn’t enough social consensus on this in Catalonia”. Enric affirms that administration is in a period of judicialization, and how to give a labour law framework and a new statute to these workers is still being evaluated.

As far as the Generalitat is concerned, it is crucial to continue generating dialogue in order to reach agreements and proactively be able to solve the different problems faced by workers with new labour conditions derived from technology.

The organisations that manage these regulations are:

“It is important to create forums for social dialogue in order to introduce new regulations without entering into conflict.”

Enric Vinaixa, Generalitat of Catalunya.

The city council of Barcelona

Oriol Estela, General coordinator of the Metropolitan Strategic Plan of Barcelona, expert in urban planning and mobility, talks about the fact that particularly in Barcelona, and indeed in all cities, the impact of geography and urban planning on people’s finances must be taken into account, if your finances are in trouble you might want to consider the applying for the best loans without credit check . The challenge of an ageing population affects Barcelona and other urban centers. The role of digital platforms will also become very relevant in the caring profession, according to the expert.

Oriol believes it is important to discuss a minimum wage, but points out that city councils and municipalities do not have the legislative capacity to do so.

We must create a strategic plan for the regulation of new work and address issues such as the right to disconnect from the workplace, prevention of occupational hazards and technological stress.”

Oriol Estela, PEMB.

Paco Ramos, Executive Director of Strategies for the Promotion of Occupation of Barcelona Activa affirms that in Barcelona there is a lot of temporality and salaries that can be improved. It is essential to:

  • Strengthen the quality of employment.
  • Reduce job insecurity, especially among young people.

Barcelona Activa has published guides for the use of digital platforms in which recommendations can be found both for people who work on digital platforms and for consumers, with the aim of raising awareness and using them responsibly.

For Barcelona Activa, it is important to raise awareness about the rights of people who work in digital spaces. Paco also states that laws must be regulated so that there is no conflict, solutions should be sought and pressure put on workers’ organisations and unions to open the debate on specific policies. He says:

“Public administration is lagging behind the labour market. Therefore, it is important to fight against the obsolescence of regulatory markets.”

Paco Ramos, Barcelona Activa.

How public administration sees the future of new digital business models

Public administration also envisages certain challenges when it comes to meeting the needs of new workers, including:

  • Help with getting back into the workplace. One of the main causes of stress is not being able to cover basic needs. Mental health is important and 90% of people without work have mental health problems. For the City Council of Barcelona, for example, job reinsertion is a priority, as it is viewed as a crucial element of quality of life. They emphasise that, as the labour market does not provide quality work for everyone, it is therefore hugely important to provide security through social contracts or other measures.
  • Take into account new labour rights. Within the regulations, professionals from different public authorities talk about taking into account new rights derived from working with new technologies such as:
    • The right to speak with a human (not with an algorithm).
    • The right to have time to learn new digital skills.
    • Tighter controls by companies of worker pressure and stress.
    • The right to disconnection and data protection. Regulate what data workers give the company in their day to day (for example, their location, the time it takes to do a task etc.)
    • The right to union association. Where and who canthese new digital workers file claims to. 

If you want to stay up to date on news about the future of work, don’t miss our blog. You will find news about job flexibility, digital work and new forms of employment that can help you find a job to suit your lifestyle, as well as flexible professionals and digital natives who can adapt to the new digital needs of your company.