World Day of Social Justice is on 20 February 2022. This is an annual event of the United Nations and the International Labour Office. World Day of Social Justice 2022 is focussing on formal employment versus informal employment. Some might understand this as temporary employment over full time employment. For others, this event addresses the expansion of the gig economy, where people work as freelancers without the benefits that employees enjoy. In the rapidly changing world post-pandemic, this is an anxiety-driven tension for the future of those with insecure employment.
What Is the Gig Economy?
In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend to hire independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who often focus on their career development.
- The gig economy is based on flexible, temporary, or freelance jobs, often involving connecting with clients or customers through an online platform.
- The gig economy can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and demand for flexible lifestyles.
- At the same time, the gig economy can have downsides due to the erosion of traditional economic relationships between workers, businesses, and clients.
Social justice examines the stress driven aspects of the gig-economy: no permanent employment, no superannuation, no sick leave or accident cover, and frequently, insufficient income. People in the gig-economy often have two or three temporary or freelance jobs at the same time – simply to make ends meet.
2022 World Day of Social Justice: “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment”
The theme this year of the World Day of Social Justice is “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment”. The focus will be on the formalization of employment as a prerequisite for reducing poverty and inequality. The event will be held virtually.
The commemorative event has been held since its first proclamation by the General Assembly in 2007 under the leadership of the Kyrgyz Republic. The commemoration supports efforts by the international community to search for solutions to achieve sustainable development and fulfil many of the aspirations set out in the Secretary-General’s report on “Our Common Agenda”, including poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, universal social protection, gender equality and social justice for all.
Purpose of the event
More than 60 per cent of the world’s employed population, that is 2 billion women, men and youth, earn their livelihoods in the informal economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the vulnerability of workers in the informal economy. Informal workers, as they often lack any form of social protection or employment related benefits, are twice as likely to be poor compared to formal workers. Most people enter the informal economy not by choice, but due to lack of opportunities in the formal economy.
Promoting the transition to formality is a necessary condition to reduce poverty and inequalities, advance decent work, increase productivity and sustainability of enterprises and expand government’s scope of action, notably in times of crisis. In accordance with the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204), and acknowledging that the pathways to transition to formality depend on national circumstances, comprehensive integrated strategies that tackle multiple drivers of informality work best. Effective gender-responsive formalization strategies combine interventions to increase the ability of the formal economy to provide for decent work opportunities, to absorb workers and economic units currently in the informal economy, and to strengthen the ability of people and enterprises to enter the formal economy. The identification of the right incentives and the elimination of obstacles to formality are essential. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, preventing the informalization of formal jobs is also of particular importance.
Formalization results from a complex and gradual process. As a part of this process, reliable and relevant statistics are needed to better understand the characteristics and drivers of the informal economy, and monitor progress towards formalization. Many countries are utilizing new technologies to facilitate the transition from informal to formal employment through E-formalisation tools such as electronic database systems for proper identification of employment and wider access to ICTs and e-commerce.
The 2030 Agenda and the Secretary-General’s report on Our Common Agenda, acknowledge the transition to formality as a priority. It also calls for road maps to be established to integrate informal workers and enterprises into formal economies in order to benefit from women’s full participation in the workforce, and to reduce inequalities more broadly. Under a new partnership agreement between the ILO and UNDP, the two organisations have agreed to undertake joint programming to generate pathways to formality, which will also support the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for a Just Transition.
Below is an explanatory video on the gig economy, pro and con. It is offered for information only.
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