Robots, vouchers, mini-jobs and demanding work. And again, riders, delivery persons, strikes and international meetings on the future of work. 2017 was a decisive year for the evolving job market. Below is an overview of the seven key innovations introduced during the outgoing year, as we retrace the main stages of change.
The fear of robotics. The year 2017 opened with the report, published by the McKinsey Global Institute, entitled A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity. The survey states that “49% of the activities that people are paid to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology”. The analysis takes 54 nations into account - including Italy - for a total of roughly 78% of workers worldwide. In Italy, around 11.8 million workers - accounting for 50% of current paid activities - are estimated to be affected by automation.
The battle of the vouchers. The General Federation of Italian Trade Unions (CGIL) collected enough signatures for three labour-related referendums, in particular concerning the abolition of job vouchers as payment, the reintroduction of the liability of contractors and contracting parties in the event of violations against workers, and the reintroduction of Article 18 of Italy’s Workers’ Statute. The Constitutional Court judged the first two petitions to be valid, and yet the matters were never put to vote. But why is that? The government approved a decree, that was converted into law in April, which abolished job vouchers and restored joint and several liability in contracts. Moreover, July saw the introduction of “Presto”, the new, post-voucher contract regulating occasional work, available in two versions: the family booklet, when the employer is a natural person, and the occasional service contract, for other employers. Click here for Adecco’s infographic on the family booklet and the occasional service contract.
The G7 Ministers of Labour and Employment Meeting. The G7 Ministers of Labour and Employment Meeting, held in Turin in late September, closed with a shared commitment to adopt “an inclusive approach to the labour market, with particular attention to the weakest in society, to ensure that no one is left behind”. The final document devotes particular attention to the impact of innovation on the world of work with regard to “social groups that are particularly exposed to loss of employment and the reduction of wages”.
The question of the “gig” economy. Throughout the year, both in Italy and abroad, food delivery riders and Uber drivers staged several protests to demand greater safeguards. In Great Britain, Uber was defeated in court with a decision that makes a fundamental step forward in regulating the gig economy. The judge ruled that the company’s drivers carry out a work activity, coordinated by Uber, thus finally putting down in black and white that such activities should not be regarded as mere “odd jobs”.
49% of the activities that people are paid to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology
Smart working. In some ways a historical reform, the “Jobs Act for Self-Employed Workers” of May 2016 finally recognised and regulated smart working in Italy. The reform sets out to promote “flexible forms of smart working, in order to increase labour productivity and reconcile professional and family life”. Moreover, it regards smart working as an innovative alternative to teleworking, compared to which it boasts less legislative rigidity and higher potential: for the employer, in terms of organisation, productivity and cost reduction, and for the worker, since it increases the chances of reconciling professional and family life.
Regulating riders. After 23 months, the national contract for logistics, freight transport and shipping employees was renewed in December. As a result, the social partners have finally undertaken to regulate professional bike or scooter delivery services. The new contract will regulate the occupational status of riders (including food deliverers) and how their work is organised.
Mini-jobs, Italian-style. The year has closed with the publication of the first joint report on the Italian labour market containing data processed by Istat, Ministry of Labour, INPS, INAIL and Anpal. The report states that Italy has returned to pre-recession levels of employment. However, the number of short-term mini-contracts is on the up, rising from 3 million in 2012 to almost 4 million in 2016. Such arrangements mainly include fixed-term contracts of up to three months, occasional jobs and collaborations.