Building Stable Futures for Independent Workers: A Response to Uber’s A Better Deal Report

As the Covid-19 pandemic has shed light on the many gaps and discrepancies in social and economic structures, it also highlighted the essential role of many undervalued jobs across sectors. Many of these jobs lack a sufficient social safety net that can protect workers, not only in a crisis but especially then.  

For those reasons, Uber has taken an important step toward ensuring that independent workers have access to benefits and protections, without risking flexibility that makes Uber an attractive platform for many workers. Publishing their report “A Better Deal: Partnering to improve platform work for all”, they pledge to work closely with policy makers, other platforms and social representatives across Europe to create a support and protection structure for independent workers.  

We at YouthProAktiv endorse Uber in their efforts and believe that independent workers should not be denied any rights or benefits they may be offered in traditional employment. We recognise the great value of independent workers across sectors and trust that increasing support and protection for these workers will have positive impact on the economy. As such, it will contribute significantly to reducing unemployment or unstable employment, which will have an important effect for young people across Europe. 

As also outlined in the report, independent and self-employed workers usually seek out non-traditional employment relationships because they can much easier fit around their other priorities, which may include studying, caring for family members or other earning opportunities. Often, people who do have to balance multiple priorities are excluded from the labour market.   

For young people across Europe, who are trying to balance their priorities or who are struggling to enter employment, independent or freelance work is a valuable earing opportunity and can also help them develop their skills for future employment. For many, independent work can bridge the gap between unemployment and employment and act as a significant stepping-stone for securing a stable job and income. For young entrepreneurs, it can offer the time and space to develop business ideas, while also providing a flexible income to fund their ideas. This all especially applies to disadvantaged young people, who meet even greater challenges when trying to enter the labour market.  

But critically, this flexibility, while it makes independent work attractive for young people, should not come at the cost of stability and security. Hence there must be additional benefits and protections, usually associated with traditional employment. A regulatory framework will be able to erase any legal ambiguity on the status of independent and freelance workers and create the conditions for including such benefits and protections.  

Therefore, YouthProAktiv will continue to support Uber’s efforts to create equal conditions for independent workers. The Covid-19 pandemic has only cast a spotlight on the gaps in Europe’s current employment system, which has left many young people in vulnerable positions, struggling with unemployment or in unstable, insecure employment situations. These efforts are crucial steps towards sustainable economic recovery and an employment system in which all workers get the same benefits and protections, without having to choose between flexibility and security.