Today’s sharing economy—exemplified by the likes of such upstart, technology-driven companies as Uber for ride-sharing and Airbnb for lodging rentals—is undergoing explosive worldwide growth. It’s also changing the way we think about work and careers. This post provides an overview of global trends to watch for.
The growth of the sharing economy is controversial everywhere, but probably in no place more than Europe, with its long history of stringent worker protections. The sharing economy is driven by low labor costs, which are made possible by the hiring of contract workers responsible for covering their own retirement, sick leave, and other benefits. Contract workers are, of course, less expensive for employers, who also appreciate the ability to hire on demand without having to continue the relationship.
In the U.K., controversy has swirled around the use of “zero-hour” contracts. Under these agreements, employees are called in, usually on short notice, to undertake work, and the employer holds no ongoing obligations to provide any additional work. Zero-hour contracts are prevalent in certain sectors—such as agriculture, healthcare, and catering—where employers must find cost-effective, flexible ways to manage “blips” in demand.
While contractors are appealing to global employers, some employees with permanent jobs see share workers as unwelcome competition. For example, taxi drivers rioted to protest Uber, whose cheapest service, UberPop, is now banned in France, Belgium, and Germany.
Despite the anti-Uber sentiment, it would be a mistake to dismiss the appeal of the shared economy in Europe.
Read the full blog article here.