Elevating California's Irregular Workforce

Many people need to work irregular hours.  Some individuals prefer odd hours of work to a steady job.  We plan to extend workforce services to these groups.

 

How big is this part of the labor market?

Flexibly scheduled workers are a significant part of the workforce in homecare, healthcare, retail, hospitality, building, distribution, public services and other large sectors.

There is little conclusive data on the size of this workforce, but the Government Office of Accountability have highlighted research showing over 30% of the workforce is now doing some sort of freelancing or "side-hustle" work.

 

Who are they?

We see three cohorts of people working irregularly:

  • Core irregulars: These individuals can only work if it fits around their fluctuating personal circumstances.  They may be care-givers, parents with complex needs, have a recurring medical condition or be studying flexibly.  Some need extra work that dovetails around the volatile demands of their home business.
  • Voluntary irregulars: This group has no barriers to taking a traditional job but prefers a portfolio of employers.  They favor the diversity of skills, networks and opportunities.
  • Under-employed: These people have some work but need more that has to fit around their primary employment.  It may be their primary employer schedules them exactly in line with the company's day-to-day needs, rather than offering steady hours.  At times they are not called in to work they must find hours elsewhere.

 

How do they find work?

Anyone picking up odd hours of work will be connecting to the labor market through some mix of three channels:

  • Gig-work/staffing apps: There are thousands of these, Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Doordash, Rover and Snag.work are some of the bet known.  Typically, they each focus on one type of work and send out alerts when a booking relevant to the work-seeker is received.
  • Workforce scheduling systems: Companies increasingly call frontline staff in, and send them home, as business needs vary.  In a small company, a manager might decide day-to-day who to bring in to work.  Corporates use sophisticated scheduling software that minimizes their labor costs while fine-tuning levels of service.
  • Word-of-mouth: Most irregular work is found offline, often for cash-under-the-table.  Small businesses and households hiring help this way are acting illegally, avoiding tax and regulation.  "Day labor" on construction sites is on example.

 

What does this workforce need?

We believe these workers want protections, progression, support and the option of stable employer relationships.  Providing this should raise quality and motivation which boosts economic growth.  Delivering this sustainably requires a new kind of market for irregular labor.

We are working towards launch of that market.  Currently we are engaging with employers, educators and other large stakeholders to ensure everything is in place.  We will then be opening the market to work-seekers.