The discussion about the future of work often falls into an unproductive polarization that recognizes only two paths. On the one hand, the traditional employment model, with control and subordination. And, on the other, the absence of any regulation, based on immediacy and unrestricted freedom.
Taking workers from digital platforms out of the regulatory limbo in which they find themselves is the next step that Brazil needs to take – and urgently – to guarantee security, social protection and minimum earnings for the more than 22 million Brazilians who provide services through the intermediation of mobile applications.
They are delivery people, plumbers, designers, engineers, among many other professionals who deserve our respect and who lack specific regulation to support them in this new contractual model of employment relationship; the result of the new economy.
iFood is ready and open to establish a dialogue with the legislature, the executive branch, academia, organized civil society and, of course, the platform workers themselves and other platforms utilizing these professionals in the new economy. We would love for other companies to move forward, hand in hand with us, to protect this category of workers.
The idea is not to end the labor legislation that already exists – that has served us well over many decades. Instead, we want to collectively build a new regulatory framework for the digital platform workers, that does not force them to choose between having more benefits and social security versus more flexibility and autonomy.
As promoters of this reform, which will guarantee all workers’ dignity as a starting point, we believe that safety in this new work model is our top priority. In our view, safety includes the physical, social and financial well-being of platform workers. In practice, we are talking about providing access to social security, accident insurance, safety-awareness campaigns, health benefits and protection funds in case of illness.
Minimum earnings must be ensured. The remuneration for work on digital platforms must be proportional to the hours worked and always above the floor calculated in the hour/minimum wage ratio in the country. Today at iFood, for example, the average earnings of delivery people, per hour worked, exceeds this proportion by up to five times.
Listening to workers and ensuring that they have a voice in the dialogue with digital platforms is essential throughout the construction of future regulation and, above all, in labor relations themselves. It is not by chance that it needs to provide for transparency, ease of access to the rules for using the platforms and clear and objective conditions.
By now, you’re probably wondering what the workers themselves want. According to a survey by the Locomotiva Institute released in April this year, two out of three delivery couriers say they prefer a more flexible work model than traditional full-time employment allows. Therefore, iFood defends contract workers’ rights such as freedom of choice, independence and autonomy as something which should be permitted and valued. Not only for delivery people, but for all digital platform workers in Brazil.
Having laid the foundation for this discussion, we are protagonists and subjects of this evolution. The new world is under permanent construction, which demands agility from us to drive the much-needed transformation of work and the rules and regulations that govern it. This will benefit not only workers and digital platforms, but society and the economy as a whole, which will benefit from increasingly sustainable and dignified relationships.
Regulating the work of these professionals is a win-win-win issue. Workers gain because they now have more security. The companies in the sector gain, as they will have legal certainty and peace of mind to invest and innovate. And society wins, with thousands of professionals being included in the social security system.
Together, we must build a new future for work. Now.