Reforming our institutions: Key policy recommendations
The report’s author, Jovana Karanovic, Founder of Reshaping Work, comments: “Our research shows that we need to reform our institutions to be fit for purpose and to adapt to the new work realities. In this regard, a collaborative approach is needed among all relevant stakeholders, including businesses, trade unions, advocacy groups, and academics.”
Contributing to this ongoing and urgently needed debate, the 'Reshape Work' report highlights three key areas that need the most attention:
#1. Access to good quality work
Diverse forms of work present many opportunities for workers because they have relatively low entry barriers and could provide almost immediate income streams. They can also facilitate labour market access for marginalised groups and hence positively contribute towards social inclusion. Finally, temporary work, agency work, or platform work can improve people’s work-life balance. However, not all of these types of work are covered in equal manner by social protection benefits, which may even leave diverse workers more exposed to health and safety risks. Coupled with the fact that self-employed platform workers may face unpredictability in earnings and the fact that remote working can negatively impact one’s social wellbeing, we need novel ways of dealing with such situations.
#2. Social protection, rights and benefits
Vulnerabilities around diverse forms of work are often related to self-employed status, which limits workers' access to social protection benefits. Therefore, the report argues it is paramount to expand at least part of these protection programmes to include all types of work regardless of their employment status. The lack of access to social security has manifested itself vividly during the COVID-19 pandemic when many diverse workers have been left with no income to fall back on. To combat this, some measures have been extended universally to all workers. Although temporary, they present an opportunity to revisit our current social system and develop an inclusive one that protects all workers in a systematic and enduring manner. In France and Italy, we can find good examples of how benefit systems can offer protection while not undermine workers' autonomy.
#3. Skills and career development
The third area where change is needed to better support diverse forms of work is career development. Access to reskilling and upskilling opportunities can prepare workers for changing market realities, increase their mobility, and reduce dependency on a single work provider. While this responsibility primarily rests with individuals, there is a role both for the private and public sectors in that they can help facilitate career development and life-long learning, develop instruments for recognisability and portability of skills and participate in the financing of training programmes. Initiatives like Individual Learning Accounts can play a key role in this area.