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JobMaker scheme fails youth as super accounts drained and JobKeeper bypassed gig economy

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​Prime Minister Scott Morrison has enthused about there now being “more jobs in the Australian economy than there were before the pandemic”.

But that’s true only for those 25 and older: 77,600 more are employed than before the crisis. For those aged 24 and under, 74,100 fewer have jobs.

While the flawed design of Jobkeeper hit young people particularly hard, the one program the Coalition announced to specifically tackle youth unemployment, the JobMaker Hiring Credit, has so far proven a failure. It has led to just 609 hires as Treasury officials revealed late last month.

JobMaker offers employers a weekly $200 subsidy to hire job seekers aged 16 to 35, and was expected to create 450,000 jobs over two years.

The pandemic clearly hit younger workers the hardest. Of the more than 870,000 Australians who lost their jobs in the first few months of the Covid-19 crisis, 332,200 – or 38% – were young Australians aged 15-24.

By June 2020, as the overall unemployment rate hit 7.4%, the youth unemployment rate spiked to 16.4%, with a further 19.7% underemployed.

The reasons young people were hit so hard are pretty clear. Young people are more likely to work in casual jobs – the first to be cut in hard economic times – and more likely to work in sectors most affected by border closures, lockdowns and other measures – retail, hospitality, tourism.

Flawed design of JobKeeper

Moreover, the flawed design of the federal government’s key support measure, the $100 billion JobKeeper program, exacerbated the negative effect on young people.

To qualify for Jobkeeper, employees had to have been working for their employer for a minimum of 12 months. This disproportionately excluded younger workers, who are more likely to be recent entrants to the workforce, more likely than older workers to switch jobs and more likely to be employed in casual or other insecure work.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from August 2019 show that while young people comprised 17% of the workforce they accounted for 46% of all short-term casual employees.

And of those young people employed casually, 26.4% of had been with their employer for less than 12 months, compared to 6.5% of those aged 25 and over. So one in four young people employed casually were not eligible for JobKeeper, compared with just one in 16 of their older counterparts.

JobKeeper’s design therefore pushed proportionally more younger workers on to the unemployment queue and likely contributed to more of them dipping into their superannuation – a policy that will cost them up to $100,000 over their lifetime.

Young Australians told to be resilient as COVID-19 wipes out jobs and housing hopes

The federal government introduced provisions early on in the pandemic to allow Australians affected by the economic crisis to withdraw up to $20,000 from their superannuation accounts (in two rounds of $10,000 each – one last financial year, another this financial year).

According to estimates by financial comparison site Canstar, the long-term cost of a 25-year-old withdrawing $20,000 from their superannuation is more than $100,000, compared with about $37,000 for a 50-year-old.

Superannuation accounts drained

Industry Super Australia has estimated that about 395,000 people under 35 completely drained their super accounts.

All unemployment is costly for individuals, families and the community. But high and long-term youth unemployment can have particularly dire consequences that reverberate for decades. It creates the risk of “scarring”, suppressing an individual’s job and income prospects over their entire life.

Youth unemployment was already a significant issue prior to the Covid crisis. Now, with younger people hit hardest by the pandemic’s economic impacts, it’s imperative to ensure an entire generation is not permanently disadvantaged.

Cuts to JobSeeker, Jobkeeper: out of the frying pan and into the fire

This is an edited version of an article first published in The Conversation.
is a Lecturer and Program Manager, Social Science (Psychology), School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, at RMIT University.
is a Lecturer, Bachelor of Youth Work and Youth Studies at RMIT University

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Gig-economy riders in Spain must become staff within 90 days under new rule | WSAU News/Talk 550 AM · 99.9 FM

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By Belén Carreño and Joan Faus

MADRID (Reuters) – Food delivery companies based in Spain have three months to convert their couriers into staff workers under new rules approved on Tuesday by the government, one of the first laws in Europe regarding gig-economy workers’ rights.

The decree, which was agreed on with trade unions and business associations, aims to clarify the legal situation of thousands of riders after Spain’s Supreme Court ruled last year that companies must hire them as employees.

The new rules came into force immediately, with companies being given 90 days to comply.

A debate on how to regulate workers’ rights in the gig economy is unfolding globally. The European Commission has opened a public consultation period on potential EU-wide rules.

Spain has moved ahead of Europe by transposing into law the Supreme Court ruling, which some companies were still reluctant to comply with, claiming their models were different from those that were the subject of the ruling.

The ruling was related to riders of Spanish start-up Glovo.

Global delivery companies such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats are facing lawsuits over labour rights in a number of countries.

Although the legislation makes it harder for companies to have freelance couriers, closing the door on a common practice, several riders’ associations and labour experts have said it does not completely resolve their legal situation, anticipating further potential court battles.

Most delivery companies have already started preparing for the change, looking for new business models that will allow them to be profitable.

Just-Eat, the Spanish branch of Take Away, has already hired some of its workers and covers peak demand with workers from transport companies.

Others, such as Glovo, have opted to hire some riders through temporary employment agencies, according to riders.

A Glovo spokeswoman and an Uber Eats spokesman declined to comment while awaiting the details. Deliveroo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Belén Carreño and Joan Faus; Writing by Belén Carreño; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Estelle Shirbon)

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Gig-economy riders in Spain must become staff within 90 days under new rule | WTVB | 1590 AM · 95.5 FM

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Gig-economy riders in Spain must become staff within 90 days under new rule | WTVB | 1590 AM · 95.5 FM | The Voice of Branch County

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Bye 9-to-5, hi mental health struggles: the effect of the gig economy

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The gig economy offers both freedom and uncertainty (Getty)

The way we work is changing and it’s not only because of the pandemic. There are a lot of options available to us these days. Too many, in fact. One such alternative is the gig economy

 Essentially, the gig economy means that workers are paid for ‘gigs’ which are short-term, temporary jobs, often referred to as freelance work, as opposed to permanent employment.

Gig economy workers could already be in full-time or part-time employment though, taking on gig work to top up their income and make ends meet. Or, they could be self-employed, filling their day-to-day lives with enough freelance hours to make a living. 

Long gone are the days of simply working nine-to-five.

For some, this fundamental shift in the way we work offers flexibility and freedom to carry out work job-to-job. For others, it brings insecurity, no promise of contractual work and lack of holiday and sick pay.

According to research by the University of Hertfordshire, between 2016 and 2019, the UK gig economy workforce doubled with one in 10 working adults using gig economy platforms in 2019.

But whether it’s moonlighting as a YouTuber or Amazon seller as a side hustle or working full-time juggling a variety of jobs like delivering food for Uber Eats or Deliveroo, how do we know the right time to turn off our ‘work mode’ and boot up our ‘life mode’?

And what is this precarious and ever-changing way of working doing to our mental health?

Research findings from a 2016 study commissioned by the charity, Help Musicians UK, looked into the potential links between the gig economy and mental health.

Looking at over 2,200 musicians working in the gig economy in the UK, 68.5% self-reported depression and 71% anxiety.

Some of the key issues which arose in the study pointed at worries about financial stability, job insecurity, and the requirement to have an online presence and network which exposed individuals to relentless opinion and criticism.

Whilst the phrase gig economy originated from the music industry, the rise of the internet and technological innovations has created a whole new world of opportunity for the way we work and seemingly endless opportunities to fill our home life with more and more work.

But is this tech-enabled gig economy causing burnout because we just don’t know when to stop? Or does it allow us to embrace freedom from traditional corporate roles?

Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, has been taking a look at the social, organizational, and policy implications of the shift towards the online gig economy.

Dr Alex Wood, who has been working on the study, says the gig economy can have both positive and negative consequences on our mental health.

‘We find that one of the things workers like most about this work is the sense of being their own boss as they don’t have to deal with a manager on a day-to-day basis.’ Alex tells Metro.co.uk.

Dr. Alex Wood has been studying the effects of the gig economy (Alex Wood)

‘This autonomy from traditional management is a real positive for many workers but that comes with the stress caused by the algorithmic control of their work by platforms; knowing that if they don’t work hard they’ll get a bad rating and lose your ability to make a living.’

‘This algorithmic control comes with its own risks for mental health as workers work hard for long hours without taking many breaks which can cause burnout.’

Michael Daly, associate professor in Psychology/Behavioural Science at Maynooth University, says the research he and his team have carried out on underemployment and psychological distress has shown a notable increase ‘when a discrepancy emerges between the amount of hours they would like to work and the hours offered by their employer.’

‘Workers also want job and income security, benefits such as health insurance, and opportunities for promotion and career development that tend to be underrepresented in gig economy jobs.’

But what do the people who actually exist in this new way of working think about it?

Phillip Smith, a freelance editor, is fully immersed in the gig economy and says finding the right work-life balance is tough. 

‘There was a period at the start where I was building contacts where you would be repeatedly hitting refresh on your emails begging for replies, that was tough.’

As a freelance editor, Phill Smith is immersed in the gig economy (Phill Smith)

Phill says carving out time for exercise has massively counterbalanced the negativity overworking has caused his mental health.

‘I’ve had a few crazy weeks where I’ve landed too much work and realised I had to pull back. I found that I have to rota in downtime during the week. I have a home studio so I can and have worked every hour of the day so forcing myself to go for a run or do yoga is essential.’

Working full time in the gig economy is one thing, buy what about having a ‘side hustle’ alongside a full-time job?

Amy Harris works as a full-time retail manager but launched her own craft store on Etsy during the Covid pandemic.

‘Having been on furlough for so long it was something that definitely worried me if I would be able to keep it up once back,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

Amy says the opportunity to work on something she’s passionate about brought positivity to her life.

‘It really helped me with my mental health when I wasn’t working and gave me a sense of purpose everyday. I’ve always regretted not pursuing what I studied at university and creating this little business has almost lifted a bit of that guilt and given me a creative outlet.’

Amy Harris said the gig economy allowed her to pursue something she’s passionate about (Amy Harris)

So, what is the future like for the gig economy?

Dr Wood says this way of working has seen and will continue to see growth through the pandemic and beyond.

‘I think the gig economy will emerge from the pandemic even bigger than before with local gig work boosted by the growth of food and retail delivery and remote gig economy boosted by companies looking for more remote workers who can be engaged and controlled without needing to bring them on to the companies’ premises.’

‘Companies are also going to be hesitant to invest in permanent employees in these uncertain times.’

What’s clear is that as the gig economy asserts itself in a post-Covid world, the mental health of workers involved shouldn’t fall by the kerbside as a result.



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