New Forms of Employment. What you need to consider as an Employer

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In an ever changing world, especially in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic, employers need to be alert to the new forms of employment that are likely to emerge in the “new normal”. The rise of home working, the return of furloughed staff, social distancing rules and contending with the undoubted recession that is due to come are all factors which need careful consideration.

Our view on the “new normal” is that we are likely to see a rise in the following sectors:

  • Employee sharing. 

This concept proved popular in China on the resumption of business after the lockdown. In essence it consists of one employee being contracted to more than one employer. The idea is a “one to many” relationship. There are many people, experts in their area (for example accounting, law, human resources, sales, marketing), who are already working for multiple companies. In most cases, the companies are not in competition, so there are no conflicts. The concept is similar to “time-sharing”. In the same way people time-share holiday homes we foresee that businesses will soon employee share. This is not temp working or consulting, but businesses acquiring a share of a person’s available hours during any given week or month.

  • Job sharing

Probably one of the more familiar systems which many businesses now operate, after all it has been around since the 1970’s. This is a system where the job of one person is shared between two or more. Since all positions are shared, this leads to a net reduction in per-employee income. The people sharing the job work as a team to complete the job task and are equally responsible for the job workload. Compensation is apportioned between the workers. Working hours, pay and holidays are divided equally. The pay as you go system helps make deductions for national insurance and taxes are made as a straightforward percentage.

  • Interim management

Interim management is the temporary provision of management resources and skills. Interim management can be seen as the short-term assignment of a proven heavyweight interim executive manager to manage a period of transition, crisis or change within an organization. In this situation, a permanent role may be unnecessary or impossible to find on short notice. Additionally, there may be nobody internally who is suitable for, or available to take up, the position in question.

  • Casual work

Another familiar term likely to come to the fore is the ”new normal”. It is essentially an employment relationship with limited job security, payment on a piece work basis, typically part-time (typically with variable hours) that is considered non-permanent. Although there is less job security, freelancers often report incomes higher than their former traditional jobs.

Contingent workers are also often called consultants, freelancers, independent contractors, independent professionals, temporary contract workers or temps.

  • Voucher-based work

This is a kind of work where an employer acquires a voucher from a third party (generally a government authority) to be used, instead of cash, as payment to a worker providing a service.

  • ICT-based, mobile work

Advances in ICT have opened the door to new ways of organising work. The current pandemic has seen a shift from a regular, bureaucratic and “factory-based” working time pattern towards a more flexible model of work. Telework and ICT-based mobile work (TICTM) has emerged in this transition, giving workers and employers the ability to adapt the time and location of work to their needs. Despite the flexibility and higher level of worker autonomy inherent in TICTM, there are risks that this work arrangement leads to the deterioration of work–life balance, higher stress levels and failing worker health. After all do you remember what a weekend used to be like?

  • Portfolio work

Portfolio working occurs when an individual has multi strands rather than just one strand to their career. This trend has been growing for a while, fuelled by desire and also necessity post the 2008 credit crunch. Portfolio working is likely to see a spurt of growth in the “new normal” for the following reasons.

  • People aren’t one-dimensional and fit in a neat box, and they have different skills and interests;
  • The job for life is dead as a concept – a portfolio career helps you create your own career as you want it, by design;
  • A current shortage of full-time jobs will lead led to more part time jobs, creating a financial shortfall that needs to be filled;
  • The younger generation actively seeks more variety than the older generations;
  • People are now more used to choice and like the idea that they can design their career as they wish;
  • More people are seeking meaning and purpose, and a portfolio career enables people to earn money and give back;
  • Mixing employment and self-employment reduces the perceived risk of going it alone 100%;
  • More companies are seeing contracts and projects as a sensible solution without increasing headcount, giving you the scope to have a portfolio career


  • Crowd employment or Platform Work

Crowd employment or platform work is a new form of employment that uses an online platform to enable organisations or individuals to access an indefinite and unknown group of other organisations or individuals to solve specific problems or to provide specific services or products in exchange for payment. Crowd employment is also known as crowd sourcing or crowd work, and aims to organise the outsourcing of tasks to a large pool of online workers rather than to a single employee. Technology is essential in this new employment form, as the matching of client and worker, as well as task execution and submission, is mostly carried out online.  This form of employment is based on individual tasks or projects, rather than on a continuous relationship. A larger task is divided into smaller subtasks that are relatively simple or standardised, can be done independently of the other tasks and have a specific output. 

  • Collaborative self-employment

Collaborative arrangements are allowing the self-employed to pool their resources in communal funds which can then be accessed to provide sick pay or cover late payments. This is helping reduce the risk for many self-employed and giving them the peace of mind that employees already have when faced with hardship in their life.

It is clear that the economic climate is in for a very rocky ride for the foreseeable future. As employers are you prepared for the implications of the “new normal”? At Alexander JLO our expert employment lawyers are. We can deal with the drafting of new contracts of employment and already have precedents in place to cope with the inevitable rush that there will be for new ways to utilise staff in the future. Why not contact us to see what we can do for you?

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