Non-permanent workers are taking up much time and space in the media and business today. And with good reason – we’re seeing an increasingly prominent place for non-permanent workers in the current state and the future of work. This prevalence is now being recognised as crucial for the success of global economies, not only by employers, but also via government legislation. Here’s a brief round-up.
A recent study from the Freelancers Union (a report also funded by Upwork), shows that for the past five years, the number of freelance workers has risen by over 3.7million, with freelancers in the US now totalling 56.7million. It’s estimated that these workers spend a collective average of over 1 billion working hours, per week. Wow.
In another study, this time from Korn Ferry, the percentage of HR professionals actually hiring contingent workers, is now at 60% in the US. Some employers from this recent study, claimed that they’re planning to convert a third of their traditional workforce to non-permanent workers.
Both these recent studies, highlight a few critical points about the US economy:
- A mindset shift in big business, where non-permanent workers are being viewed far more strategically, as integral to an organisation’s business plans and future success
- With an increasing prevalence of non-permanent workers, their value and importance to the US economy can not be underestimated
- There are skills gaps being met by these workers: one of the main drivers of their engagement in the corporate world
Robert Half Australia has released research in Australia which shows that 92% of employers, would hire a proven contract worker into a permanent role, or would actively extend a contract to permanent status, on the back of positive evaluation of the impact of contractors on a business.
The research also looked at the perception of contract workers and their contribution to a business. 78% of employers view contract workers as having flexibility AND job security – a factor that helps mitigate the perceived instability of contract work. Key to engaging contract workers, is the ability for a business to fill roles quickly, according to 75% of hiring managers interviewed in the study.
The research found that over three quarters of Australian employers, believe a mix of contract and permanent roles is key to the ongoing success of their business. And 71% said contract workers are now a central component of their organisational or departmental long-term staffing strategy.
Theresa May is in the process of overhauling employment laws in the UK which will improve the rights of workers in the gig economy, with a focus on flexibility and pay. The current legal loophole, which allows employers to pay agency workers less than their permanent counterparts, demonstrates a tightening of the gap around inequalities in today’s world of work.
The proposed changes include:
- Naming and shaming those employers that don’t comply with tribunal findings, and fail to pay out compensation to successful claimants who have been treated unfairly as a worker
- Enforced paid holiday leave for vulnerable workers, and severe penalties if laws aren’t adhered to
- Simplified legislation for classifying workers, where tax and employment laws are to be better aligned: a signal that workers for companies like Uber and Deliveroo may be entitled to worker protections
- Legislating to give workers in the gig-economy the right to request temporary contract or fixed-hours worker, after having served for 12 months, and to help address challenges that exist for continuous service of gig workers
It’s a Non-Permanent Workers Market
For the first time in Google’s 20 year history, non-permanent employees have outnumbered permanent workers. And they’re not alone. There’s much speculation as to why this is the case:
- As a public company Google is looking to trim HR costs, and is doing so by taking on more contingent workers
- Google isn’t alone: this trend is happening across most of the big tech giants, as corporate America (and more broadly the corporate world), embrace the concept of non-permanent workers – Facebook, Amazon, Uber and others engage contingent workers to deliver a host of functions in their empires
- In a tight labour market, there are specialist skills whose demand is prominently rising: especially in the technical arena. As competition for these skills increases, so too does the likelihood of them being contracted out, where the burden of employee benefits is relieved
- Highly skilled, senior level talent are taking advantage of this: from short-term CEO’s and CFO’s to the prevalence of demand for data scientists, these workers are commanding higher fees than ever before, and can increasingly pick & choose where and in what format, they will work
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