“Uberisation of labor relations” is here to stay

  • ECO News
  • 7 July 2017

Pimenta Braz speaks of this new labor phenomenon - uberisation - and says the Portuguese are very imaginative in finding ways to close and open companies with different taxpayer numbers.

The organization of the labor schedules continues to be the number one infraction made by companies and, in many cases, that wrongdoing is a result from a lack of knowledge of the law. There are also new phenomena to be considered, such as the “uberisation of labor relations”, states Pedro Pimenta Braz, inspector general for the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT), in an interview to ECO.

Pedro Pimenta Braz, ACT. Paula Nunes / ECO

Pimenta Braz starts off the interview by mentioning that in spite of the improvements in terms of lay offs and wage arrears, there is still a generalized culture of non-compliance from employers. The inspector also considers this lack of organization in labor schedules is the main infraction: it is considered normal for a Portuguese person to work more than 40 hours a week and more than eight hours a day.

“We haven’t quite figured out that productivity is not directly connected to the amount of work someone does. Being focused on what you are doing — meaning, how you organize your time –, is much better than working 10 or 12 hours a day and then having a five or six hours’ productivity time”, stated Pimenta Braz. He mentions the defaults are not conscientious: they exist because there is a lack of knowledge about the instruments and mechanisms the Labor Code suggests, hence, they are not used.

"Nowadays, the line that separates a false service provider from a subordinate employee is very blurred most of the times. ”

Pedro Pimenta Braz

ACT

About these new labor situations, Pimenta Braz highlights the uberisation of labor relations as the most significant case, stating it is a situation that stands outside the law: “the are no labor relations, no contract, and it is a fully undeclared work”.

“Nowadays, the line that separates a false service provider from a subordinate employee is very blurred most of the times. If the person is 100% economically dependent on the person paying them for their services, they could have their own computer, no working hours schedule nor receive direct orders from an employer [some of the criteria inscribed in the service provider laws], but there is a full economic subordination. That person is hierarchically dependent on that institution”, states Pedro Pimenta Braz.

These new labor situations “will continue existing, computerization will continue existing, people will keep working from home and teleworking will continue to be very tricky to articulate with the Labor Code”, the inspector stated. He adds the focus should be on “the economic dependency the person has on the institution it is working for”. The fact is that new labor situations are emerging quickly in our Western society, which are “not being properly regulated” — and that needs to be done, is what Pimenta Braz advocates for.

Within the Labor code, we need to be able to legislate these new types of labor relations.

Pedro Pimenta Braz

ACT

The inspector general for the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) told ECO the institution’s other major challenge is processing sanctions. The inspector states: “the Portuguese are very imaginative in finding ways to close and open companies with the same people, but with different taxpayer numbers”. Companies have fake addresses, which causes sanctions not to reach their destination; the main consequence is that those notifications expire after five years.

Because of this difficulty in notifying employers of their infractions, Pimenta Braz calls for an internal “IT revolution”. He suggests exchanging data with the Portuguese Social Security and the Tax Office, in order to be able to know “immediately” who those employers are and where they are. Pimenta Braz ends the interview by suggesting the Authority for Working Conditions should have access to every citizens’ official email.

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