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Social security system could see expansion

By LI LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-24 07:10

Casual workers may benefit as desire for stable employment loses priority

For decades, Chinese people prized government-funded jobs for the stability and social security that came with them, even if it meant earning a lackluster salary.

But a new survey has suggested that stable employment is no longer prioritized by younger job hunters-a crucial shift that may drive the development of a social security system that is friendly to more casual job holders. The shift appears to be the result of increasing career mobility.

The Blue Book of China's Society, released Monday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, described the trend as a departure from the norm, since security and job benefits are heavily dependent upon one's employer.

Workers for small, private employers, or those employed through the casual arrangements offered by the online app-based companies such as the car-hailing or food delivery platforms, are generally covered by fewer or even no security programs.

But the sudden rise of internet-based jobs has rendered the original social security arrangements incapable of safeguarding the rights of those working in the shadow of the gig economy, according to Zhang Haidong, a sociology professor at Shanghai University who studies social mobility.

"That has revolutionized the traditional values in job selection," he said.

The professor added that the traditional security model will be forced to make adjustments as it leaves an increasing number of workers untended to, though it may be a lengthy process.

The new report signaled that behind the decreasing emphasis on job stability are the growing difficulties facing less-skilled migrant workers as they attempt to secure jobs in cities and get promotions.

They may also face problems in enrolling their children at urban schools because of hukou-the household registration system that excludes outsiders from enjoying local public services, the report said.

Figures offered by the report show 81.4 percent of couriers come from rural areas, and almost one-third choose the job because other jobs are harder to secure.

For food deliverymen, 77 percent of them come from rural areas, and 52 percent had difficulty securing other jobs.

The findings have renewed discussions of extending the security net to cover those working for the less-protected gig economy.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said it plans to revise work injury insurance regulations in light of the tens of millions of people in the sector, but no more details were provided.

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