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David Weil, the dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, was the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of U.S. Department of Labor and led the agency from 2014 to January 2017. In his experience as an administrator, Weil suspected that employments are not being treated well in the age of contracting and temp work. They often are being paid less than they should be.
In his book entitled ‘The Fissured Workplace: Why work became so bad for so many and what can be done to improve is’, Weil discussed that large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of people who are responsible for their products, in favour of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one and another. As a result, wages, eroding benefits, inadequate health and safety conditions, and ever-widening income inequality have declined.
There are many cases where employees especially contracted and temporary employees have been treated unfairly in terms of wages, well-being, and safety. Weil in HBR mentioned that when we eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, receive packages, and use our gadgets, the assumption that the company we pay also employs the people who deliver them is totally incorrect. He added, “Our deliveries are often made by contractors and our hotels rooms are cleaned by temporary employees from staffing agencies. This phenomenon is what I call the fissured workplace.”
Fissured workplace is the cracks in which today’s economy largely rest. It leaves employees without fair wages, a career path, or a safe work environment. In Weil’s survey, he estimated that there are 29 million people in ten industries that have been hit hard by fissuring. Even well-educated employees or professions once regarded as protected from ups and downs of churning labor markets are being affected as well.
Although there have been a number of recent proposals about how to protect workers, the proposals address a lack of between emerging digitally based business models and existing approaches to workplace. In his study, Weil shows what steps we must take to make work a fair deal for all. A company must look at how we got this fissuring issue. There must be a real act to address such inequality.
For digitally-enabled branded services, a business model should provide service that is integrated into platform, limiting the ability of those providers to earn profit or sustain losses. Companies should start with a clear strategy for creating value for their employees and customers. They should also select an appropriate method for operationalizing the way their workforce run. The choices can be made within context of existing workplace rules and framed by the worker protections from laws. As a result, business in all sectors will find opportunities to compete and to earn profits for their investors while treating employees fairly.
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