Event debates inclusion of app workers in Social Security

At an event, Amobitec shows how app workers are being included in Social Security around the world and launches a charter of principles for Brazil – find out how it went.

Seminar organized by Amobitec shows proposals for regulating work on Social Security platforms and launches a letter of principles for Brazil

What is the best way to include couriers and drivers who work in Social Security in Social Security? digital platforms —and there are already 1.4 million workers across the country? This was the topic of the debate promoted during the seminar “Digital Platforms: The Future of Social Protection in Digital Work”, held on April 27th by Amobitec (Brazilian Mobility and Technology Association) in partnership with the School of Public Policy and Government of Fundação Getúlio Vargas (EPPG-FGV).

The event brought together some of the companies associated with Amobitec —such as iFood and Uber—, as well as parliamentarians and international experts to discuss this topic and find solutions to include these professionals in the social security system.

In the first panel, in the morning, Felipe Daud, head of public policies at iFood, spoke about the job market on the platforms and brought data to show the need to find an affordable solution to include app workers in Social Security.

“Today, 71% of workers are on the platforms because they like the flexibility of their schedules and can work for several companies. The problem is that 43% of them do not make any contribution to Social Security”, he explained, citing figures from a research carried out by Datafolha for Uber.

He pointed out that the MEI (Individual Microentrepreneur) solution has not been efficient for the social security inclusion of these professionals. “Only 16% of drivers and delivery people opt for MEI. At iFood, only 10% are contributing”, says Felipe. “Many people know about MEI, but it has low adherence and compliance because workers’ income is variable.”

The solution, for him, is to think of a simpler and less costly model for workers — withholding at source and at a lower value than the MEI, “as iFood suggests in its social security inclusion proposal. Today we have new ways of working, which is why we want to discuss a public policy that brings more social protection to these workers”, he concluded. 

At the table, federal deputy Paulo Ganime (Novo-RJ) agreed with the need to update Brazilian legislation to meet new work models. “We need to think about the model we want for 2022 and in a context where people have to have more rights to decide about their lives,” he said.

Regulation of work on platforms around the world

At the second table, in the afternoon, Felipe Simonsohn, director of government affairs at Didi Cone Sul, and Miriam Chaum, director of public policies at Uber, showed how the regulation of work on platforms is being carried out around the world.

The two experts brought examples of how different countries are reconciling work flexibility with the protection brought by social security. “Platform work is attractive because it offers the possibility of accessing the market. In Brazil, 81% of new platform workers said that this was an important or essential source of income during the pandemic”, says Miriam. 

She adds that flexibility and autonomy are other important attractions of gig economy, but they are also a source of stress and concern for many professionals, due to the uncertainty of earnings. 

“The Covid-19 crisis has shown the need to protect drivers and delivery people. In some countries, the response has been to try to reclassify workers as employees. The point is not to change the category, but to improve the quality of work. Most of them don’t want to have rigid working hours, but rather health protection, for example,” he adds.

She brought some examples: Uber itself offers insurance to 2 million drivers worldwide. India, on the other hand, incorporated workers from the gig economy in its social security system (with access to benefits such as daycare), a model also adopted in France and California. In New York, Miriam showed, a fund was established that collects 3% from fees paid to drivers and, in return, offers health and education benefits.

Chile's new legislation

“Guaranteeing the independence of workers and social security is possible”, agreed Felipe, who spoke about the regulation of work on platforms approved in Chile — one of the first in South American countries —, which should come into effect in September 2022 “But, as we are facing something new, it is important that the solution is also innovative.”

The solution, in Chile, was to develop a public policy based on a major political agreement that included companies, workers' associations, experts (such as labor lawyers and economists) and politicians from various parties. The model approved in the country is hybrid and allows formal hiring (as in the CLT) or as an independent contractor, with this second option allowing workers to have access to social security. 

“It is necessary to listen, without bias, to workers. Regulation must come from a transversal political agreement”, says Felipe. “When drivers and delivery people were interviewed, the majority said they preferred to maintain their autonomy and work for more than one app.”

He also mentioned a study by the ILO (International Labor Organization) showing that, in Chile, 83% of digital platform workers agreed that their activity was classified as autonomous. “Today we have a law that formalizes this activity. And workers get social security benefits.”

Amobitec Charter of Principles

In the final part of the event, Amobitec launched a charter of principles of the sector in defense of the inclusion of drivers and app delivery people in Social Security, reinforcing the need to overcome bureaucracy and involve companies to guarantee the regularity of contributions without increasing costs for professionals or consumers.

“We have been debating the topic since 2021 to build common ground. We decided to launch a letter of principles to make public the commitment to collaborate in the construction of legislation that effectively promotes the social protection of professionals who partner with the platforms”, stated Aline Viotto, director of Amobitec. “The letter is not the end of the process, but the beginning of a new stage of public debate. It is an invitation to everyone to get involved and give their opinion on the proposal.”

Aline also summarized the 4 main points of the letter:

  • The proposed contribution to Social Security should not represent a significant increase in costs for drivers and delivery people;
  • The platforms will assume part of the value contributed by partners;
  • Platforms must collect and transfer resources to Social Security to facilitate the process and guarantee the continuity of contributions;
  • The creation of the system should not represent an increase in costs for the end consumer.

Subsequently, the initiative was welcomed by federal deputy Rodrigo Coelho (Podemos-SC). “This will be the biggest social security inclusion in history, after the inclusion of rural workers and MEIs”, he said. “If we do not include these workers now, in the future they will have to resort to government social benefits, such as the Continuous Payment Benefit [minimum wage granted to those over 65 years of age].”

Federal deputy Paula Belmonte (Cidadania-DF) agreed. “We need to move forward in the discussion on how to provide guarantees for these workers. We cannot bring a traditional solution that makes new markets unviable.”

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