(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reshaping Workers’ Compensation for the Sharing Economy

The most dramatic factor in re-shaping the future of workers’ compensation is that we now have a sharing economy,  Quietly, over the decades, “work” has been influenced dramatically by the Millennial Generation. As the sharing generation reinvents the economy, the element of “trust” will have the most important impact in the direction of social legislative programs such as workers’ compensation.

The economy, because of technological advancements, climate change and the educational system alterations, has become based on sharing. In transportation new entities such as: UBER, OLA and lyft have been created. In goods the organizations such as: Ebay, trade and Easy have been born. In space: airbnb, Home Away and rework, have established themselves. In the service market there is now and TaskRabit. Chegg has a foothold in learning, and in logistics there is Instantcart.

These new entities were established by the Millennial Generation. The generation with birth years between the early 1980’s to early 2000’s. Millennials are detached from institutions and are networked based on friendships. They have traits of high levels of student loan debts and unemployment. They have benefited least from any economic recovery in the history of the US. They are somewhat upbeat, and 75% consider wealth to be important. The Millennial Generation is withdrawn from politics and world news, and they have a “Peter Pan trait” of being slow to grow up.

The Millennials have an overwhelming belief in “trust.” It is that “trust” that has accelerated the new sharing economy. Present day politicians, administrators and bureaucrats are being challenged to the very core of existence by the reformulated sharing economy. The very existence of social insurance programs such as the workers’ compensation are being challenged to extinction.

The social media networks reflect trust in the sharing of data. That is the basis of Facebook, Instagram, youtube and Google+. Author Malcolm Gladwell recently said, “I think millennials are very trusting.” 

The unfolding future of the sharing economy will not be eliminated by mere statutory authority. We are in the midst of a generational change, advanced by the Millennials and fueled by technology, climate change and challenging educational adjustments. The future of reformulating social insurance programs, such as workers’ compensation, will require a recognition of how important the element of trust is in the sharing economy.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters).