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Article
The ‘Gig’ Economy and its
Impact on Social Security:
The Spanish example
EJSS
European Journal of Social Security
2017, Vol. 19(4) 293–312
ª The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/1388262717745751
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Borja Suárez Corujo
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Abstract
This article aims to shed light on one crucial aspect of the ‘gig’ economy: the extent to which the new
forms of work in this field undermine the pillars upon which traditional Bismarckian systems of social
security have been built. Focusing on Spain, three main issues are analysed. First, after considering the
legal classification of this type of service provision and its implications, the scheme within the social
security system that corresponds to the registration of the service providers is identified. Second, how
registration and subsequent social security contributions affect the generosity of social benefits is
clarified. In particular, attention is paid to both the risk of partial, or total, lack of, protection due to the
absence of compulsory contributions and the low-level of contributions made by the self-employed.
And third, the impact the development of the platform economy may have on the financing of social
security and its future sustainability – given the current difficulties confronting the Spanish economy – is
examined. Some recommendations relating to these three issues are outlined as concluding remarks.
Keywords
social security, gig economy, work on demand, sustainability, adequacy, platform collaborator
1. Introduction
The economy is undergoing a major shift1 caused by a process of great technology-driven transformation. This ‘wave of digital disruption’ may not have led to a new ‘crowd-based capitalism,’2
but it has already certainly opened the door to ‘business models where activities are facilitated by
collaborative platforms that create an open marketplace for the temporary usage of goods or
1. Schwab (2016) refers to it as a ‘fourth industrial revolution’.
2. See Sundajarian (2016).
Corresponding author:
Borja Suárez Corujo, School of Law, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Kelsen, 1. 28049 Madrid, Spain.
E-mail: [email protected]
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
services often provided by private individuals’.3 Described as the sharing economy – a common,
yet imprecise term – this growing phenomenon encompasses a wide range of economic activities
based on the use of online platforms.
Leaving aside those non-profit-seeking activities and other marketplace-like ones,4 this article
analyses activities that exert a direct influence on the employer-employee relationship as new
(digital) forms of work.5 While being conscious of the numerous and tricky issues raised by
crowdwork online,6 my basic interest is in so-called work-on-demand via apps7 since its offline
component makes it closest to the ‘typical’ (or more traditional) employment relationship.8 In this
regard, the use of digital platforms is transforming how we formally define work and, probably
more relevant, the conditions in which such ‘work’ is carried out.
To date, most labour experts have concentrated their analyses on the effects that this ‘Uberisation’ of the economy has on employment regulation;9 conceived of as a set of guarantees that have
historically balanced the relationship between labour and capital in Western Welfare States.
Attention has mainly focused on the ability of labour law to provide an adequate response to this
new type of service provision in which subordination, one of the defining features that shapes the
concept of the employee, is blurred, thus creating serious risks of precariousness, casualisation and
commodification of work.
Much less attention has been given until now to the critical consequences that this deep
transformation has for social protection. This is particularly relevant in Southern European
countries where public social security systems were originally designed to protect employees
working in the industrial and service sectors. Following the pattern of a continental social
insurance model, these compulsory schemes, based on pay-as-you-go financing, provide
earnings-related benefits that depend on previous contributions and the duration of affiliation
3. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social
Committee and the Committee and the Committee of the Regions on ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’, Brussels, 2.6.2016, COM (2016) 356 final.
4. Following the taxonomy suggested by Terrase (2015: 15) who points at three distinctive elements characteristic of the
correspondant types of collaborative platforms: sharing actors (acteurs de l’e´conomie du partage), marketplaces (places
de marche´) and on-demand service provision (services à la demande).
5. See ILO (2016: 39) and EUROFOUND (2015: 72).
6. This expression refers to those working activities that imply completing tasks (often ‘microtasks’) characterized as
follows: first, they are offered on a competitive base to a large number of people (crowd) through online platforms; and
second, they are paid to the crowdworker either by the ‘client’ (crowdsourcer) or by the platform itself depending on the
role of the platform in contractual terms (Suarez Corujo 2017a: 31).
7. ‘A form of work in which the execution of traditional working activities such as transport, cleaning and running errands,
but also forms of clerical work, is channeled through apps managed by firms that also intervene in setting minimum
quality standards of service and in the selection and management of the workforce’ (De Stefano 2016: 1).
8. The so-called ‘crowdsourcing offline’ shares with the ‘online’ version three key aspects: first, it is based on a just-in time
relationship where the ‘collaborator’ is in theory free to determine his/her time availability; second, it is channeled
through apps that are managed by firms that set minimum quality standards for the service provider and manage the
‘workforce’ with more or less strict criteria; and third, the performance is compensated on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis.
Beyond these features, the key difference is that tasks are physically delivered (crowdsourcing offline), limiting the
number of potential collaborators.
9. A good illustration is that among the numerous papers assigned to the thematic track on ‘gig / sharing / on-demand
economy’ at the LLRN conference in Toronto, none specifically dealt with social security issues. Likewise, a hallmark
initiative such as the European Commission’s Communication, ‘A European agenda for collaborative economy’ (COM
(2016) 356 final) pays very little attention to them. As an exception, the annual Conference organized by the European
Institute of Social Security in Oslo in September 2016 dealt with ‘Social Security’ and the changing concept of work.
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to the scheme. Given the contractual conditions in which service provisions are carried out, two
main questions arise: are continental social security systems still able to cover the needs of the
new on-demand service providers in the ‘gig’ economy? And, if not, should these public schemes
be subject to profound reforms in order to guarantee the financial sustainability and the adequacy
of social security benefits?
From a Southern European perspective, and using Spain as the main point of reference, this
article aims to present as its main contribution an analysis of the challenges faced by social security
systems due to the emergence of new forms of work associated with the platform economy. Given
the difficult financial standing of Spanish social security, dealing with this issue seems particularly
appropriate as a way of anticipating the effects of a structural change that will have to be tackled in
order to guarantee its viability. Further, my attention will focus on how (labour) law treats these
new forms of work and its ability to secure decent working conditions.
2. Work on-demand via apps and labour law
Before considering the implications of work on-demand via apps on social security, it is important
to examine certain specific aspects relating to the contractual side of these types of service
provisions. The mainly professional basis of the Spanish system of social security (social insurance
scheme) makes it particularly relevant to determine first, whether we are faced by an employment
relationship or not, as this will imply a different scheme – and subsequent conditions – within the
system to register with; and second, the specific working conditions of the activity in terms of
earnings and working time, since they will have an effect on the level of contributions made and,
eventually, on the benefits granted.10
2.1. The thorny legal classification of ‘collaborators’ in the platform economy
The legal classification of the relationship between online platforms and service providers (‘collaborators’) evokes an old and continuing discussion of the characteristics of subordination as a
defining feature of the employment relationship.11 The original socioeconomic reality which gave
rise to the emergence and consolidation of labour law has evolved over time and is now starting to
recognise – partly, at least – a major transformation thanks to digital progress. This new state of
affairs means that the traditional categories used to build up the concept of ‘employee’ are not
entirely satisfactory, so there is a widespread idea that an update is urgently needed.
Without questioning this judgement, two preliminary remarks are pertinent in order to avoid an
exaggerated response to the new phenomenon which could jeopardise the hallmarks of labour law.
On the one hand, we should bear in mind that there have always been employment relationships
corresponding to activities in which the employee is not in a very clearly subordinate position.
Remote working is a good example.12 On the other hand, the need to establish legal guarantees in
order to attain decent working conditions remains, basically, because the conflict between labor
and capital still exists in the new economic context.
10. See Langille (2011: 102-103).
11. See Freedland and Kountouris (2011).
12. See De La Villa Gil (1966).
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
2.1.1. Theoretical legal classification in Spanish law. Theoretically, Spanish Law offers three possible
legal classifications of the relationship between the online platform and the service provider
depending on the specific circumstances. Two of them leave ‘collaborators’ – in the most common
sense of the term – outside the domain of labour law.
First, they may be identified as independent contractors, which is to say self-employed individuals who are in business on their own account. This implies the absence of any specific
guarantees beyond the very basic ones recognised by private law between parties or contained
in the Self-employed Workers’ Statute (Act 20/2007).
Second, as a variation on this, service providers may also be classified as dependent contractors,13 so-called ‘economically-dependent self-employed workers’ [trabajadores autónomos
económicamente dependientes (TRADE in Spanish)]. These are professionals whose work has
some characteristics in common with employees and independent contractors. By virtue of
section 11 of the Self-employed Workers’ Statute, this relatively new category specifically refers
to those who usually, personally and directly carry out an economic or professional activity for
profit receiving 75 per cent (or more) of their income from one single client – the digital platform
in this case. Moreover, a further requirement for obtaining this status – not a minor one as we
shall see – is a formal recognition by the client (section 11, Act 20/2007). Currently the important
thing is that such a classification would entail certain legal guarantees – not foreseen for
‘ordinary’ self-employed – with respect to conditions on the termination of contract, working
time limitations, work-related accident coverage, cessation of activities, and collective
agreements.
Beyond the realm of independent contractors, the third and last possible classification is that of
employees, a status that, needless to say, opens the door to all labour guarantees for employees and
the corresponding obligations for employers (digital platforms, again). As with other forms of
labour regulation, employees are defined as those providing services for another person within the
scope of the organisation and management of that person, the employer, according to section 1 of
Workers’ Statute (Royal Legislative-decree 2/2015). Moreover, such a provision is reinforced by
the existence of a ‘labour presumption’ contained in section 8 of the Workers’ Statute and paragraph 9 of ILO Recommendation No. 198, which states that a contractual relationship in which
someone personally works for the benefit and under the direction of someone else in exchange of
remuneration is, in principle, considered as an employment contract. Thus, the appearance leads to
the recognition of labour status.
2.1.2. The primacy of the fact principle and its implications. What is happening in practice? How do
digital platforms in Spain conduct their relationships with ‘collaborators’? In virtually every case,
service providers are being treated as independent contractors. Nevertheless, contractual classification is not in the hands of the parties in accordance with Spanish Law. On the contrary, a
‘‘primacy of fact’’ principle rules. Thus, it is facts, and not labels, which determine the attribution
of employee status or, on the other hand, the existence of a commercial relationship.14 This means
that, as in other countries, legal classification depends on the result of a multifactorial test that is
based on the facts that emerge from the relationship between the platform and the service provider
13. Using the expression suggested by Arthurs (1965).
14. See as an illustration of this principle, the Spanish Supreme Court (Social Chamber) Ruling of 25 January 2000 (No.
582/1999) and 23 November 2009 (No. 170/2009).
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(‘collaborator’).15 Specifically, attention should be drawn to those defining features that separate
the concepts of employee and self–employee in Spanish Law (section 1 WS), which are questioned
in these types of cases where the intermediate legal classification as an ‘economically-dependent
self-employed worker’ does not seem to be a real option. Thus, we are back facing what has been
expressly described as the ‘cornerstone’ of labour and employment law.16
Depending on the kind of crowdworking that is examined, controversies affecting the defining
characteristics of the concept of employee may vary. As far as offline work-on-demand via apps is
concerned, the main controversy is associated with dependency – or the lack of it – and its two
dimensions: subordination to the authority of the alleged employer and economic dependency.17
As a matter of fact, Spanish labour law scholars and courts, following De La Villa,18 refer to the
former as dependency (or subordination) and to the latter as ‘otherness’ (ajenidad), pointing at the
ownership of the benefit. Quite often, drawing the boundary line so as to isolate both concepts is a
very tricky task and it makes sense here to use dependency as an all-embracing term.
The assessment of the existence of (in)dependency in Uber-type activities is based on the
multiple test, mentioned above, that takes into account signs of the existence or non-existence
of such a feature. Following Spanish case-law,19 a traditional analysis of the potential employee
status would find strong evidence of independency (self-employment) stemming from the following contractual conditions. First, the most relevant one arguably is that working time is determined
at the collaborator’s discretion, which means that there is no fixed timetable and, more importantly,
that the ‘collaborator’ decides when to be active in the platform. Second, and along the same lines,
it is common that he/she enjoys freedom to refuse tasks commanded through the platform. Third, it
seems to show autonomy in that the performance of the activity is basically self–directed, notwithstanding the existence of common instructions directed to all ‘collaborators’. Fourth, the nonexclusivity of the contractual engagement, which is to say, the possibility of ‘collaborating’ with
several platforms, is generally considered a sign of independence. And, fifth, the fact that activityrelated spending is not compensated for by the platform could also indicate that the service is
provided on his/her own account.
Having said that, evidence of the dependency of the ‘collaborator’ on the platform is frequently
found in practice, some of this being typical signs of a traditional idea of subordination and others
showing new forms of dependency. First, in cases of work on-demand via apps, where the performance is physically carried out, it is common to have ‘collaborators’ fulfill certain conditions
before being activated. Second, another sign of subordination lies in the personal dimension of the
performance in the sense that it is not transferable. Third, according to the experiences analysed in
Spain, the supremacy of platforms is obvious in several different ways: strict (no matter if indirect)
supervision and control20; detailed indications of how to perform the tasks; price fixing of services
performed; sham incentives on ‘activation’ that hide a minimum level of availability. Fourth, the
fact that the platform is allowed to ‘deactivate’ ‘collaborators’ in a wide range of circumstances
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
See Aloisi (2016: 669).
See Davidov (2002: 358).
Again, see Davidovv (2002: 365).
See De La Villa Gil (1972).
See Cruz Villalón (1999: 169).
Subordination to the authority of the employer is performed in a very different, but not necessarily less effective,
manner which makes use of novel instruments such as clients’ ratings and their impact on digital reputation. See Prassl
and Risak (2016: 625).
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
shows a sort of disciplinary power, one of the most typical characteristic of employers. And finally,
it is also a sign of subordination of ‘collaborators’ that the relationship established with the client
(payment included) is always channeled through the platform.
2.1.3. The Spanish ‘Uber case’ as an illustration. At this point, it is interesting to draw attention to the
opinion handed down by the Advocate General Szpunar in the Elite Taxi v. Uber case.21 Although
the questions referred to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling are not particularly concerned with the
nature of the relationship between Uber and its ‘drivers’, the considerations made by the Advocate
General, if confirmed by the judgement, could determine the legal classification of these types of
activities in Spanish Law. After examining Uber’s activity, he concluded that it involved much
more than matching supply to demand: ‘it creates the supply itself’ and, even more relevant, ‘also
lays down rules concerning the essential characteristics of the supply and organises how it works’
(para. 44). Such a statement seems to be well-founded if we consider the following.
On the one hand, some facts prove an undoubted subordination of the ‘collaborators’ (drivers)
to the platform (Uber) shown by the terms and conditions that ‘cover both the taking up and pursuit
of the activity and even the conduct of drivers when providing services (para. 44).
These requirements have to do, first, with access to the platform and the ability to drive on
behalf of Uber, since a car with certain characteristics (size, age, inspection, insurance) as well as a
driving license are needed. Second, with control over the quality of the transport service – including the driver’s conduct – channeled through a ratings function contained in the application; the
fact that it is not direct supervision, since it is the passenger who rates the driver (and vice versa),
should not weaken this point, especially because this sort of action could enable Uber to exclude
the driver from the platform. And third, with Uber’s ability ‘to tailor its supply to fluctuations in
demand’ through different instruments, such as giving a financial reward in case of accumulating a
certain number of trips, or informing on the best time periods to be active. On the whole, despite
the formal possibility of pursuing the transport activity on behalf of Uber alongside other professional activities – whether related to transport or not –, in this case, all the drivers providing
services for Uber did so as their only or main professional activity.
On the other hand, signs of economic dependency are also found. One is that prices for the trips
are set by Uber: a driver’s theoretical ability to ask for a lower rate does not seem to be ‘a genuinely
feasible option’ (para. 50), since any reduction would only affect his/her income. Another one is
that the service is provided through a smartphone application that belongs to Uber, so that clients
establish a relationship with this platform and users are given the impression that Uber is responsible for the service provision and its quality. And finally, the fact that Uber is not the owner of the
vehicles is, in Szpunar’s view, not relevant given that ‘a trader can very well provide transport
services using vehicles belonging to third persons’.
To sum up, Uber ‘controls the economically significant aspects of the transport service offered
through its platform’: it does not sell software, but services that are provided by ‘collaborators’
subject to detailed instructions. So, it is irrelevant that the Opinion – hypothetically the judgment –
does not go into the legal classification of the relationship between Uber and its drivers. For the
purpose of this article, the important thing is that, in such an emblematic case of on-demand
economy via apps like this, national courts (certainly the Spanish ones) will normally tend to
21. See the request for a ECJ’s preliminary ruling from the Juzgado Mercantil No. 3 de Barcelona (Spain) lodged on
7 August 2015 – Asociación Profesional Élite Taxi v Uber Systems Spain, S.L. (Case C-434/15).
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regard ‘collaborators’ as employees based on the aforementioned multifactorial test.22 However,
we should be aware of their vulnerability.
2.2. The vulnerability of platform ‘collaborators’ beyond the legal classification
Nowadays the position of Uber-like ‘collaborators’ is very vulnerable in spite of their legal
classification. We have already seen that, in Spain, they are normally classified as selfemployed workers. However, in most cases, the specific characteristics of the contractual relationship may well support a different classification according to Spanish Law.
The first alternative – economically-dependent self-employed workers (TRADE) – does not
seem to be completely satisfactory. As an intermediate category reflecting the mix of features that
makes it difficult to give a clear-cut response according to the traditional patterns, this solution
might in principle be attractive for both parties since it offers a minimum level of professional
guarantees to ‘collaborators’, and flexibility and reduced costs to those firms behind the platforms.23 But, the requirement of a formal recognition of TRADE status (or the way it is foreseen
by the law) prevents this potential group from growing. Therefore, notwithstanding that such a
condition can be successfully claimed in court, the reality is that the number of registered
economically-dependent self-employed workers has always remained very low, even after a
legal amendment in 2011.24 On top of this, overcoming such an obstacle is still not fully
satisfactory since this intermediate category could be used to cover real employment relationships according to section of the Workers’ Statute.25 Thus, our attention will be focused on the
employer-employee relationship.
As we have seen, updating the definition and interpretation of dependence in the light of an
employment relationship is crucial for preserving the employee condition of platform collaborators. But, remaining within the employer-employee relationship may not be enough to guarantee
decent working conditions. The weaknesses associated with service provision based on a just-intime dynamic are serious.
One risk is that short-time activities could jeopardise an adequate level of income. That would
not be a major problem in those cases where work on-demand via apps does not account for the
main source of earnings, but there is a real threat of underpayment if it is the principal activity. So,
alongside those cases where ‘collaborators’ act as independent contractors without bottom limit for
payment, we find that microtasks and just-in-time services increase the risk of low-wage workers26
opening the door to in-work poverty and economic instability.
From a different perspective, another risk has to do with working time given the fact that the
‘collaborator’ is (theoretically) free to determine when to be ‘active’. In particular, as the payment
22. It is worth remembering that, three decades ago, a well-known case with certain similarities was judged by the Spanish
Supreme Court. Its ruling of 26 February 1986 determined that motorcyclists providing services for delivery firms were
to be considered employees despite the loose relationship of dependency with respect to the firm and the ownership of
the motorbike.
23. See Garcı́a Jiménez and Molina Navarrete (2007).
24. Currently, the Register for economically-dependent self-employed workers at the Public State Employment Service
(Ministry of Employment and Social security) merely counts 10,099 TRADE workers.
25. This skeptical view on an intermediate category is shared by De Stefano (2016: 20) with respect to Italy, though the
number of para-subordinate workers (lavoratore parasubordinato) is much more relevant in comparative terms even
after Jobs Act has restricted the use of this category (see ILO 2016: 98).
26. Dagnino (2016: 147).
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
for the service may not be generous, overworking could become a reality and, in that sense, a way
of self-exploiting in order to guarantee a decent level of income.
There is also a risk that reinforcing the platform’s position within the contractual relationship goes too far in the light of labour regulation where strong subordination is evident. The
clear individualistic component27 of service provision virtually annuls the collective dimension
of an activity carried out by an undefined (usually numerous) group of ‘collaborators’. This
kind of individual vulnerability is not easily faced by the typical collective subjects and actions
of labour law.
And finally, the position of employer could, in certain cases, be altered: it is relatively common
for start-ups to have a business model based on the absence of large investments that are exposed to
a higher risk of failure. In that sense, it is not exaggerated to speak of more prevalent business
‘precariousness’, a relevant factor that tends to aggravate the instability of the employee’s status.
Taking account of the former, a logical step forward would be to urge the adaption of labour
regulation and institutions to the new working forms, so that the resulting legal framework offers
sufficient flexibility to platforms, while, at the same time, preserving labour guarantees in favour
of ‘collaborators.’28 The question is how to achieve such an ambitious goal. In Spain, two main
solutions are conceivable.
One option would be to formulate a new special employment relationship in the terms foreseen
by section 2 of the Workers’ Statute.29 This means that, without being excluded from labour law,
the aforementioned contractual relationship would be subject to a specific regulation designed to
reflect the singularity of certain circumstances typical of the new economic activities. Nevertheless, two objections can be made. On the one hand, it is foreseeable that an ad hoc regulation would
imply – following most of the special employment relationships – certain sacrifices for employees
in favour of employer interests. And, on the other, in the long (possibly even medium) term, this
new sort of business model would probably represent a major proportion of economic activity, not
a minor part as it does today. Therefore, a special, less protective regulation could turn out to be a
way of undermining labour rights.
As an alternative, the classification of platform ‘collaborators’ as ordinary employees could be
compatible with adapting the Workers’ Statute to the particular working conditions that characterise this type of activity. From our point of view, this is a more reasonable solution insofar as labour
status is reinforced without prejudice to the specific provisions of adapting the ordinary employment regulation to the digital environment. Note that there is already a precedent referring to a
similar case, the current remote working clause (section 13 WS). Following this example, I would
suggest a new section that would regulate certain aspects of work on-demand via apps – with
working time, salary, surveillance and collective bargaining scope as the most significant ones –
within the general legal framework applied to common employment relationships.30 This new
27. Fudge (2011: 124).
28. An interesting measure is the right to deactivation in French Law. See Mathieu-Géniaut, Péretié and Picault (2016:
592). For a general account, see Pasquier (2017).
29. Suggested by Todoli Signes (2017: 71-75). He points at specific provisions on technical autonomy, freedom of
determination working time, ability to pursue the platform activity alongside others, damage liability, minimum wage,
expense compensation.
30. In a way, that is the solution suggested in Portugal. See Livro Verde sobre as Relações Laborais, edited by the Portuguese Ministério do Trabalho, Solidariedade e Segurança Social (2016: 187) [www.portugal.gov.pt/pt/ministerios/
mtsss/docs/20170322-mtsss-livro-verde.aspx].
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regulation should aim to face the threats of vulnerability of ‘collaborators’ that we have already
seen and that can be summarised as follows.
One would be the excess of labour flexibility,31 because experience shows that it generally tips
the balance in favour of platforms32 without entailing greater freedom for the worker.33 A second
threat stems from individualisation, since a distinctive component of this type of activity lies in the
competence of ‘collaborators’ hampering the collective dimension of the employment relationships.34 And, lastly, the blurring role played by on-line platforms is often deliberately sought to
reduce labour costs.
3. Work on-demand via apps and social security
From this point onwards, the paper focuses on the impact of this new business model on social
security systems, and particularly on the Bismarckian-systems typical of Southern European
(Mediterranean) countries. The difficulties of legal classification and, above all, the specific
characteristics of work on-demand via apps change the socioeconomic basis upon which social
insurance schemes are built causing major problems in the field of social security.35 Taking the
Spanish case as the main reference point, this section of the article tries to answer four key
questions: First, how does social security treat these new forms of working activities channeled
through digital platforms? Second, has the system the ability to secure adequate social protection?
Third, could the so-called gig economy impact on the financing of social security and its future
sustainability? And, fourth, could this new state force a change in the design of income resources,
possibly as a first step towards a more Beveridgean system?
The analysis in this section falls into three parts concerning the correspondent key issues:
worker registration with Social security, adequacy of social benefits and impact on the financial
condition of the system. But, before tackling them, it is necessary to justify why this issue is
particularly relevant in a Southern European country such as Spain.
3.1. A brief account of social security systems in Spain
As is well known, a close relationship between the employer-employee relationship and the social
security system is a common feature of all European countries. But, following a consolidated
pattern that distinguishes two basic models within the European Union,36 this link is particularly
pronounced in the continental social insurance model and in it Mediterranean version.
In accordance with this pattern, social security in Spain is channeled through a double scheme
of benefits in cash.37 An unambitious, non-contributory scheme (nivel no contributivo) modestly
31. See Degryse (2016: 35).
32. This ‘‘increasing desire for labor flexibility’’ has been the driver behind the emergence of different forms of atypical
work (Prassl and Risak 2016: 624).
33. See Aloisi (2016: 662).
34. Regarding this shift in the discipline, see: Fudge (2011: 124).
35. As Deakin (2011: 167) reminds us that ‘the functionality of social insurance schemes in the past is no guarantee of their
continued viability under changing market and political conditions.’
36. See Bonoli (2003: 399).
37. In a strict sense, Spanish Social security does not provide for benefits in kind. Therefore, it does not cover healthcare
(nor long-term care and social services), which is provided by the National Health Service, which is an autonomous
system.
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
covers old-age, invalidity, family benefits and unemployment assistance. It works on a meanstested basis – it is financed through general revenues and represents 11 per cent of total spending.
The most significant part by far of the social security system is the contributory scheme (nivel
contributivo). It is mainly financed through contributions paid by employers and employees, and
accounts for almost 90 per cent of total social security spending, providing benefits in cash to
compensate for the occurrence of a social risk. Three remarks are pertinent.
First, these (contributory) benefits come in the form of pensions in the case of retirement,
invalidity and survivorship; ‘incapacity for work’ benefits, in the case of sickness, maternity,
paternity and other related personal circumstances; unemployment benefits, for job losses (or time
working reduction); and certain family benefits.
Second, the contributory level is divided into a ‘general scheme’ (Re´gimen General) that
covers wage earners subject to labour law; and some ‘special schemes’, among which the
‘Special Scheme for Self-Employed Workers’ (Re´gimen Especial de Trabajadores Auto´nomos)
stands out.38 As will be seen, there are some significant differences between the two schemes
concerning the scope of social benefits and, above all, in social security contributions. In the
former case, the payment of contributions is shared by employers and employees, whereas in the
latter they are paid by self-employed persons.39
Third, the compulsory social insurance (contributory) scheme provides earnings-related benefits to workers (for employees and the self-employed) which depend on previous contributions and
the duration of affiliation to the scheme. Thus, the connection between employment history and
access to social benefits – retirement pension as the most representative economic benefit granted
by social security – is obvious: it will be generous when the beneficiary has had a stable and long
career with a high salary; and, on the contrary, it will suffer in cases of low level of contributions
caused by any sign of labour precariousness or unemployment. This leads us to highlight the fact
that the frequent irregularity and/or uncertainty typical of work on-demand via apps constitutes a
serious threat to the functioning of the social security system, as it will make it more difficult to
fulfill the conditions required to qualify for pensions and other benefits and will affect the generosity of these benefits.
These effects have been aggravated in recent years in Spain due to the orientation of the reforms
that have, in general terms, strengthened the contributory principle through a more accurate
proportionality between contributions and benefits. Pension reform – and to a certain extent
unemployment benefit reform – are the best examples.40 People have to work longer in terms
of retirement age or social security contributions to receive a full pension, and, if not, will receive a
less generous pension. But, this assumes that all employees (including the self-employed) will be
in a position that enables them to fulfill such conditions. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all
forms of non-standard employment, including ‘gig’ workers.
38. According to section 305 of the Social Security General Act, those who regularly, personally and directly performs a
profit-driven activity, without an employment contract must register with the Special Regime for Self-Employed
Workers.
39. Using real salary as a contribution base (floor and upper limits), the percentages paid in the General Scheme,
unemployment excluded, are the following: 23.6% by the employer and 4.7% by the employees. In the Special Scheme
for Self-employed workers, the contribution base is freely chosen (between 893 and 3,751 euro per month) and the
percentage ranges 26.5 and 29.8% depending on the social risks covered.
40. See Suarez Corujo (2017b).
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On the other hand, it is also important to comment on the financial aspects of the Southern
European model of social security. Social insurance schemes are based on a repartition technique
(pay-as-you-go) for short-term and long-term benefits; whereas their main source of financing
(roughly 90 per cent in Spain) are contributions paid by employers and employees. Thus, they play
a very limited role in the public budget. This financial structure will be (and already is in some
countries) subject to strong tensions in the coming decades. It is generally believed that this
difficult situation is basically caused by the process of ageing that all European societies are
experiencing. But we should not underestimate the impact that the emergence of the platform
economy could have.
As a final comment, it should be noted that these threats to the financial and social sustainability
of the Spanish social security system are not new given the long ‘tradition’ of high unemployment
and various forms of precariousness (e.g. overuse of fixed-term contracts, frequent underpayment
and bogus self-employment, among other problems). The interest, however, in examining the
specific consequences associated with the new platform economy lies in the fact that its consolidation as a major part of the economic system would entail – in Spain and probably elsewhere – a
definite change in the foundations of the Welfare State.
3.2. A formal but relevant issue: registration with Social security
The first issue is to clarify which scheme within the social security system, if any, corresponds to
the registration of platform ‘collaborators’ service providers. It is certainly not irrelevant; on the
contrary, it acts as a starting point for dealing with the two other key issues.41
Starting from the platform collaborator’s legal classification, the answer is in three parts. First,
when he/she has the status of employee according to the Workers’ Statute, his/her employer will be
bound to register him/her with the General Scheme. This is so, regardless of how brief or infrequent the working activity is, and despite the formal provision that attributes to the Government the
ability to exclude from the scope of application of social security marginal activities that do not
provide for sufficient means to make a living (section 7.5 of the Social Security General Act).42 In
this case, alongside the implications to labour law in terms of employee guarantees, the main
consequence is that the employer is always obliged to pay the employee’s social security contributions. This will entail a significant increase in labour costs for the employer which could explain,
although not justify, the employer’s ‘interest’ in hiding the employment relationship.
The position of the self-employed is more complicated. As we have already seen, often the
platform’s collaborator is regarded as an independent contractor; a legal classification – that
includes economically-dependent self-employed workers – and leads, in principle, to their enrollment in the Special Scheme for Self-Employed Workers. But, this is not the solution when services
are provided in a sporadic manner. In such cases, there is no obligation to register with the social
security system and, therefore, no further access to benefits. The key lies in the legal definition of
whether the activity carried out by independent contractors – in theory, including economically
dependent self-employed workers – is deemed to be sporadic.
41. Note that no attention is paid here to healthcare. Unlike social security (economic) benefits, the entitlement healthcare
is not limited to previous contributions, but is basically universal except for irregular migrants (see Article 3 of the Law
16/2003).
42. See Aragón Gómez (2016: 110).
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
In this respect, the obligation to register with the Special Scheme of Social Security for SelfEmployed Workers is subject to certain requirements (see section 305 of the Social Security
General Act). One of the trickiest requirements is that the activity must be performed regularly
(de forma habitual). How is this interpreted? Case law has attempted to give an answer without
using a time criterion by pointing to a minimum level of (net) income, equivalent to the national
minimum wage43 (i.e., 707 euro per month in 2017). Nevertheless, most scholars concede that such
a rule is not completely adequate.44 In general terms, it can be argued that it is still uncertain and
entails a serious risk of fraud for undeclared work. But, this solution is even more unsatisfactory
when it is projected onto activities based on work-on-demand via apps.45
We need to consider the fact that in these sorts of activities it is common for earnings not to
reach a specified minimum amount given their typically intermittent nature. A further consequence
is the exclusion of the ‘collaborator’ from the social security system. From this perspective, it
seems reasonable to suggest that this criterion should be revised in response to the new economic
environment in which the digital dimension of the activity makes it easier to measure working
time. In fact, this could be an appropriate way of proving a regular performance.
Nevertheless, such a solution could also be problematic insofar as it would result in an obligation for the (self-employed) ‘collaborator’ to make the corresponding contributions to the Special
Scheme for Self-employed Workers; a burden that could be unbearable for Uber-like ‘collaborators’, often leading to fraud, which is a pre-existing structural problem in Spain and other Southern
European countries.46 This is an additional argument supporting the idea that an employment
relationship between the platform and the collaborator exists. However, the difficulty of affording
social security contributions could be interpreted as a sign of economic dependency. As a matter of
fact, this sort of problem is not limited to digital activities; on the contrary, it is widely shared by
most of the rising number of self-employed persons who are becoming a representative group
within non-standard employment.47 Here, it could be interesting – though not free from risk – to
explore the possibility of restricting the level of social security contributions to correspond with the
actual working time through the recognition of part-time self-employment.48
This gives rise to an additional comment regarding cases of ‘pluri-activity’ in which collaboration with the platform is just one of the activities performed. Two different situations need to be
considered. On one hand, we find cases in which digital work constitutes the main activity – that is
to say, the main source of income – among others, digital or not. It is obvious that the position of
these types of ‘collaborators’ is particularly vulnerable, and the existence of legal guarantees is
therefore necessary to preserve decent conditions of working and living.
The case in which Uber-like activity is merely supplementary is somewhat different. In this
case, the (sporadic) ‘collaborator’ works simultaneously as an employee (for example, in an
ordinary job from Monday to Friday, and provides sporadic services through a digital platform
43. See the Supreme Court Rulings of 29 October 1997 (No. 406/1997) and 20 March 2007 (No. 5006/2005).
44. Desdentado and Tejerina (2004: 61); Cervilla Garzón (2011: 2). Moreover, the Additional Provision 4th of the recently
passed Law on urgent reforms of self-employed work commits the study of a legal definition of ‘regular performance’ to
a parliamentary committee.
45. Todolı́ Signes (2017: 98) is also critical of the current case law criterion.
46. On the current position in France, see Amar and Viossat (2016: 97).
47. See Spasova, Bouget, Ghailani and Vanhercke (2017).
48. Currently, section 1.1 of the Self-employed Workers’ Statute (Law 20/2017) foresees that the self-employment activity
is carried out on a part-time basis. Due to enter into force on the 1st January 2017, this provision has been suspended.
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305
during the weekend); or, beyond the labour field, because he/she is in the process of training or
studying. Then, the digital service provision could be conceived of as a way of earning extra
income that is not strictly necessary for maintaining a given standard of living. This is actually one
of the incentives that is frequently used by platforms to attract new ‘collaborators’: a straightforward way to make extra money. From this point of view, working conditions would not be that
crucial for the ‘collaborator’. Such a view, however, could be harmful for those who have a greater
dependence on the platform. Thus, the only way of avoiding the risk of abuse in terms of low
remuneration would be to take account of any digital on-demand service provision for the purpose
of social security, regardless of the duration or the frequency.49 That would mean following the
same rule applied to employees in the General Scheme, the difference being that in this case it is
the ‘collaborator’ who is obliged to bear the burden of making contributions to the system.50 And
again, this could act as a disincentive to develop the activity and increases the risk of fraud.
3.3. The risk of inadequate protection
Having examined registration and the subsequent payment of social security contributions for
Uber-like service provision, we now consider the impact that this will have on the accrual of
entitlements to social benefits and their adequacy (generosity). We see a serious risk of inadequacy – here understood as partial or total lack of protection – stemming from two main
circumstances.51 On one hand, legal regulation which, as we have seen, excludes certain activities from the scope of social security and limits the benefits given to some groups, mainly the
self-employed. And on the other hand, working conditions – earnings, in particular – which are
the basis of the functioning of contributory social security schemes and tend to be precarious in
the case of work-on-demand via apps.
The range of risks faced by ‘platform’ workers includes, first, a total lack of protection from the
social security system. This lack of entitlement to social security benefits has to do with the
potentially common pattern of sporadic services that results in the absence of compulsory payment
of contributions, making it impossible the access to contributory benefits. Note that this problem
also occurs when the ‘collaborator’ is regarded as self-employed, because, for employees, the
obligation to contribute exists, no matter how short the period of employment is. In this respect, in
countries like Spain and other Southern European states in which the underground economy plays
a significant role, it is likely that the development of work-on-demand via apps will bring about a
serious increase in bogus self-employment as a way of avoiding General Scheme obligations.
On top of this, it is important to call attention to the fact that the coverage enjoyed by the selfemployed – if that is the legal classification – is not as complete as that for employees.52 Among
others, protection against employment risks is not fully provided for the self-employed. Given that
49. The French case is used as an inspiring reference (see Amar and Viossat, 2016: 98).
50. Some recent and, so far, timid measures have been adopted in cases of pluri-activity to enable employees registered
with the General Scheme of Social security reducing their correspondent contributions to the Special Scheme for Selfemployed Workers. See Ballester Pastor (2016: 136).
51. Note that changes from one scheme of Social security to another, no matter how many times it takes place, does not
have a negative effect itself in the subsequent social benefit (conversely, the consequences on the labour field are
relevant) thanks to the principle of aggregating periods of insurance and other rules regulated by the Royal Decree 691/
1991, of 12 April, on the reciprocal calculation of contributions between Social security systems.
52. Such a difference is more acute in the Portuguese case (see Perista and Baptista, 2017).
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it only works on a voluntary basis, the outcome is that a very low proportion of self-employed opt
for it in Spain: five out of six self-employed are not protected against the risk of labour accidents or
occupational diseases. In this sense, the decision to revoke the provision that led to the extension of
mandatory coverage of occupational accidents for new self-employed is to be regretted.53
As already pointed out, a second major risk is inadequacy, i.e. insufficient protection. Lower
contributions, which are a reflection of lower earnings, are common in Uber-like work due to the
reduced working time and characteristically intermittent working. Leaving aside those cases that
are excluded from registration with social security, this risk of limited coverage is particularly
significant – though not new for this group54 – in the case of the self-employed because of their
entitlement to freely decide, within certain limits, the amount of their contributions.55 But, this risk
also affects those platform ‘collaborators’ who are regarded as employees because, for example,
they will only be entitled to unemployment benefits after contributing for a minimum of 360 days,
a threshold which is often quite difficult to reach in these kinds of digital activities. For this reason,
we can conclude that we are faced by a new form of non-standard employment with a weakened
guarantee in terms of social protection.
On the whole, we observe that some grounds on which social-insurance schemes have traditionally been developed are missing here, questioning the efficacy of social security systems or, at
least, demanding a specific response before poverty and inequality undermine their legitimacy.
The need to guarantee decent working conditions, alongside the laying-down of non-contributory
mechanisms to offset work instability, seems urgent in order to avoid a reduction of benefits and,
therefore, to preserve the crucial role played by these contributory social security systems in
Mediterranean countries. In this respect, it is no exaggeration to anticipate that the typical labour
trajectory of ‘platform’ workers will have much in common with the current trajectory of female
employees: the combination of career interruptions, part-time contracts and low paid jobs culminating in lower earnings-related entitlements and thus in inadequate benefits.56 Nevertheless, the
steps taken in recent years – notably in Spain – run in the opposite direction: higher employment
instability due to aggressive labour reforms and the reinforced proportionality of benefits with
respect to previous contributions.
3.4. Impact on the financing of Social security and its future sustainability:
Which way forward?
The last part of this article deals with the impact that the development of the platform economy
may have on the financing of social security and its future sustainability. From the issues examined
above, it could be easily concluded that the funds coming from contributions will decrease as a
result of lower (or a complete lack of) contributions associated with the new forms of platform
work. The relevant point here is that this fall is particularly problematic in countries with the
Mediterranean (Bismarckian) model of social security, like Spain, where contributions are the
main source of financing. In fact, it could become a serious structural weakness. Could this lead to
53. Originally foreseen by the Law 27/2011, it was first suspended and finally derogated by Act 36/2014.
54. See the very interesting report concerning the French case, Terrace, Barbezieux and Herody (2016).
55. As already mentioned, the monthly basis used for the calculation of the contribution is chosen within a range from 893
to 3,751 euros (the percentage applied is basically the same). In practice, 86% of the self- employed opt for the
minimum basis (Source: Ministry of Employment and Social Security, www.meyss.es).
56. See European Commission (2015: 139). On the Spanish labour market, see Cebrián-Moreno (2015: 311).
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a change in the design of social security, possibly as a first step towards a more Beveridgean
system? We focus again on Spain.
From the perspective of social security financing (excluding healthcare), the development of the
platform economy is clearly a major challenge for the Spanish system in which funds come mainly
from contributions. In addition to the impact of these Uber-like activities, which often are excluded
from the scope of the system and, when they are included, are associated with low remuneration
and therefore with low contributions, two circumstances aggravate their significance in terms of
financial sustainability.
The current financial condition of social security in Spain is critical: its budget imbalance has
increased in recent years, exceeding 1 per cent of GDP since 2012 (it was 1.7 per cent in 2016).57 It
is important, however, to stress that this imbalance is not caused by an accelerated increase in
pension expenditure, but by a fall in the funds coming from contributions58 due to job losses caused
by the economic crisis and the austerity-driven policies that resulted in acute wage devaluation.
Another unfavourable circumstance is that Spain, like all European countries, faces a major
challenge derived from the process of ageing. This will undoubtedly mean a significant increase
of the population over 64 years old59 and, subsequently, a growing need for additional economic
resources to pay for pensions in the future.
In brief, the current structure of the Spanish social security system is facing the serious possibility of a permanent budget imbalance and, therefore, of unsustainability. Even if the system is
able of correcting itself, the outlook is still very gloomy. The reason for this is that the contributions paid by employers and workers will not be able to cope with the problems associated with the
need for additional resources that ageing will bring about, and, as far as the central issues raised in
this article are concerned, with the decreasing amount of contributions due to the new forms of
employment and, particularly, to work-on-demand-via apps.
In light of this new situation, it seems that the ‘Uberisation’ of the economy will, sooner or
later, force deep reforms in the design of social security financing. Given the structural changes
that will inevitably weaken funding through contributions in coming years, it seems reasonable
to defend a redesign of social security financing by increasing Government’s contribution from
the public budget to make up for the foreseeable insufficiency of resources. How this new
structure of financing would be organised is no minor matter insofar as it drives the system in
two different directions.
First, an increase in funding by the Government could prompt a reduction in the funds coming
from contributions. This would potentially represent a first step towards a more Beveridgean
system if it led to a significant reduction in the level of social insurance benefits and a focus,
instead, on reducing poverty through a greater emphasis on social assistance benefits. The development of occupational pensions – linked to an employment relationship – would then be essential
57. This has meant the necessity of financial relief for social security so that the Government had to agree to withdrawals
from the Reserve Fund. Around 85 per cent of the resources accumulated have been withdrawn: currently, the
remaining funds amount to 11.6 billion, just a bit more than a monthly pension payment. See: Secretariat of State for
Social Security, Social security Reserve Fund. Report to Parliament: Changes actions in 2016 and status as at 31
December 2016.
58. In nominal terms, it was still significantly lower (around 5 billion euro) in 2016 than it was in the year of the onset of the
crisis.
59. According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadı´stica the group aged 64 years old and over would increase from 8.7
million in 2016 to 14.2 in 2066 (Long-term population projections. 2016-2066, www.ine.es).
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to maintain the living standards of beneficiaries but this would certainly be no less problematic
given the existing precariousness. Likewise, this trend could give way to the reinvigorated basic
income proposal, an old idea attracting renewed attention given growing inequality and the rising
labour precariousness linked – among other factors – to the digital transformation, thus including
the platform economy.60 As a potential instrument to solve certain problems of social protection, it
would entail a major shift in the social security system.61
Second, the alternative is to keep the traditional (Bismarckian) pattern of social security in
which contributions paid by employers and employees (and the self-employed) play a key role both
in funding the system and in granting benefits; making it compatible with the increase in the
Government’s subsidy that would be used to compensate for the foreseeable fall of contributions
and the negative consequences of labour precariousness and ageing. This deeper involvement of
the State in funding social security benefits could be decisive in preserving the sustainability and
adequacy of the current model of social security.
In this context, we must consider the proposal for a ‘robot tax’. An in-depth study of such a tax
is beyond the aims of this article, but two comments are nevertheless appropriate. On one hand, in
coming years, we will see different initiatives attempting to fiscally compensate for the loss of jobs
caused by the digitalisation of economy.62 From a general perspective, a full revision of tax
systems seems necessary in order to adapt to economies in which labour loses relevance in favour
of capital. On the other hand, taking into account the impact that this transformation will have on
the financing of social security, it might be reasonable to increase the tax on digital capital in order
to provide for the necessary resources to pay social benefits. Along these lines, an earmarked tax to
finance social security should be considered.63
One last word on the debate about the future of social security in Spain. Many voices, mainly
linked to the financial sector64 defend the position that benefits based on previous employment
should be funded exclusively from contributions from by employers and employees or selfemployed persons. However, this would lead to an acute and alarming reduction in benefit levels,
partly because of the growing numbers of pensioners, but also because of the process of ‘Uberisation’ of the economy described in this article. Seen from the opposite perspective, it could be
argued that the emergence of this new business model channeled through digital platforms constitutes a further reason to claim that a significant increase of government funds coming from
general revenues or earmarked taxes65 is urgently needed.
60. OECD (2017).
61. As a matter of fact, there is no real debate on the (universal) basic income in Spain. So far, the only sound proposal that
has seen the light is put forward by the main trade unions and, divergently, consists of a minimum guaranteed income as
a last resort social protection safety net. Presented in Parliament as a Citizens’ Legislative Initiative, it is still in process
and its approval does not appear to be probable, at least in the short run.
62. In fact, South Korea has recently taken steps to introduce a tax on robots. A similar proposal was debated, although
finally rejected, in the European Parliament on the occasion of the approval of Resolution of 16 February 2017 with
recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics.
63. The Socialist candidate to the last French Presidential Election put forward a robot tax (contribution sociale sur les
robots), although in this case the aims was to fund support for or retraining of workers displaced by technology.
64. For all, see Hernández de Cos, Jimeno and Ramos (2017: 37).
65. As for general revenues, it is important to bear in mind that tax revenue in Spain lies almost 7 percentage points below
the Euro area average. Regarding the earmarked taxes, regulation could be inspired by the French Contribution Sociale
Généralisée, which taxes all sorts of income.
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4. Concluding remarks
The ‘Uberisation’ of the economy is the last sign of the loss of relevance affecting employee status.
This could lead us to accept with resignation the collapse of labour and social security regulation,
increasingly powerless to tackle the new economic environment that undermines the political,
legal and financial foundations of welfare states. On the contrary, we should be conscious of the
negative impact that this would have in terms of increased inequality and weakened social cohesion.66 Consequently, far from submitting to the collapse of the central institutions of the welfare
state, we face the challenge of adapting the balancing and redistributive mechanisms, which have
traditionally characterised it, to a different socioeconomic reality.
Seen from Southern Europe, these new forms of ‘Uberised’ work threaten the pillars on which
the Mediterranean version of Bismarckian systems of social security have been built. One problem
is that the dependence of social benefits on unstable professional trajectories is giving way to a new
allocation of (economic) risks. This is fuelled by individualisation and will enhance the tendency
towards social polarisation. Those more vulnerable to labour precariousness are precisely the ones
who face greatest difficulties in accruing adequate social security benefits. At the same time, the
second major problem is that social security systems face mounting financial needs caused by
ageing populations with a decreasing amount of resources coming from the contributions paid by
employers and employees and by the self-employed. So, it is urgent to adapt the design of social
security financing to meet the changing nature of work.
Focusing on Spain, the analysis made throughout this article enables us to make some recommendations that could be useful in adapting the Spanish social security system to the needs of those
working in the ‘gig’ economy.
Looking beyond social security, the first involves solving the problem of the legal classification
of this type of workers by redesigning the labour framework so as to preserve the status of
employee in the case of economic subordination. In this respect, strengthening the intermediate
category of independent contractors (TRADE in Spanish) could be counter-productive.
Second, finding ways to register low-income self-employed persons with social security should
become a priority. Without excluding more imaginative solutions – perhaps using French experience as a model67 – this problem could be tackled through a new regulation on social security
registration and contributions. Registration would be compulsory for self-employed workers from
the very first moment in equivalent terms to employees. Thus, contributions to social security
would be determined by the income generated in the activity – or, as an alternative, by working
time – not on a voluntary basis.
Third, closely related to the effects associated with just-in-time work and other expressions of
labour precariousness, the adequacy of social security benefits already is (and certainly will be)
endangered in the ‘platform’ economy. To preserve and even aim to improve it, social security
reforms in Spain should introduce further measures to adjust the proportional relationship between
contributions and benefits (contributory principle): reducing the requirements (basically, previous
contribution period) for unemployment benefits or introducing a more generous regulation of
contribution gaps are just two examples. In other words, solidarity – understood as referring to
the redistributive components of the system – should be reinforced.
66. See Meda (2013).
67. Reference is made to CESU (chèque emploi service universal). See www.cesu.urssaf.fr.
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European Journal of Social Security 19(4)
Finally, the financing of the Spanish social security system must be adapted to a changing
production context in which an excessive dependence on contributions could threaten financial
sustainability or lead to significant cutbacks. Although there are different options for increasing
government funds, the proposed introduction of an earmarked tax on wealth and capital income
merits serious consideration.
Acknowledgement
A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the 3rd Labour Law Research Network (LLRN)
Conference that took place at the at the University of Toronto (Canada) in June 2017.
Declaration of conflicting interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.
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