Futurists are convinced that the future of employment is in “portfolio” careers, with people hopping from job to job. Add to that a huge increase in self employment over the past decade and you can see that the future of work is based on individuals, rather than corporations. Indeed, I made this point last week in this blog on future employment trends.
However, European legislators appear determined to prevent this all from happening. They are proposing that the whole concept of freelancing is banned. What they want is that anyone who works for a company will be deemed as an employee – even if that’s a one-off piece of work for a very short period of time.
For example, if you are a web designer and you produce web sites for several companies, under the new proposals you will have to be employed by each firm. Similarly, if you are a professional speaker like me, every engagement will be deemed to be employment. The same will happen to freelance writers who produce material for various newspapers; instead of being able to bash their keyboards for themselves, each article they write will be for a separate employment contract.
The prospect of this proposed change is a nightmare. Huge amounts of bureaucracy will be created, lawyers will have a field day dealing with all the extra contracts and the only people who will lose out will be consumers who’ll ultimately end up footing the bill.
So what has all this to do with the Internet? Well, the Internet provides a way out of this nonsense. The European proposals only affect companies that operate within Europe; but the Internet provides freelancers with a global marketplace. You can work for people in Australia or America on a freelance basis and the European Commission won’t be able to do a thing.
This is what is so amazing about legislators. Here we have a technology that enables people to circumvent proposed legal changes. Yet the European Commission, with all its experts, have been unable to spot it. As the rest of us are busy using modern technologies, such as Web 2.0 features like blogging and social networks, the legislators are beavering away as though the Internet hasn’t yet been invented. While we all look to the future, they are clearly living in the past.