Informal and Non-standard Employment in Georgia

30 Jan, 2022
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Research Supervisor: Tatuli Chubabria
Authors: Giorgi Tsintsadze, Giorgi Lanchava, Salome Shubladze,
Ana Diakonidze, Salome Kajaia, Tamar Qeburia
Translator: Nino Karanadze, Teona Piranishvili
Cover Design: Roland Raiki
Layout Design: Tornike Lortkipanidze
ISBN: 978-9941-8-4048-7

This report examines the modern forms of non-standard and informal labor in Georgia. The objective of the report is threefold: on the one hand, it seeks to gather local knowledge about the labor, social and legal status of informal and non-standard employees; On the other hand, by interviewing those involved in informal and non-standard work, it seeks to update, validate and enrich the knowledge in the scientific literature pertaining to these sectors; Based on this information, the report offers the reader a legal analysis of the challenges and peculiarities identified, pointing out possible ways to address the challenges associated with informal and non-standard labor.

Why these two categories? Non-standard and informal labor are the two main frameworks that describe practices beyond formal and “standard” employment. The National Statistics Office of Georgia collects data on “atypical employment”, in which it considers the atypical work schedule (for example, working in the evening or night shifts) and the model (for example, working from home). The non-standard labor category that is the subject of this report diverges from this definition and is more comprehensive. In non-standard labor, we consider a variety of practices of regulating labor relations that are different from standard employment. These may include platform-based work (for example, couriers, drivers, and others who receive orders through various service providing platforms), part-time or oncall work (such as babysitters employed at an agency), and subcontracting, where instead of labor agreements there are service contracts (for instance, in case of catering workers). In such cases, the employee is often referred to as a “partner”, subcontractor or self-employed, even when the case concerns an employment relationship between the employee and their employer. In such a context, establishing an employment relationship becomes crucial and this topic is a key issue in the concluding sections of this report.

The informal labor category includes all labor relations that are not covered by any form of a formal contract. Such may be an employee employed in a formal enterprise who has neither an employment contract nor any other type of contract with the employer, as well as workers in entirely informally arranged enterprises.

These two categories are not mutually exclusive, but co-existent – problems, challenges, and peculiarities are often shared. Due to the variety of vague labor practices, it is often impossible to distinguish them in legal terms. This report thus combines two categories, which is both its strength and weakness. It is an advantage because this allows to cover a large part of the segment left behind by other aspects of the labor market and to highlight the systemic failures that are common to informal and non-standard forms of employment. The disadvantage lies in that when combining the two categories, not Informal and Non-standard Employment in Georgia enough attention may be paid to the diverse and specific factors within the non-standard and informal categories. Therefore, when possible, in reviewing findings, the report highlights the cross-cutting nature of the problems, while in other cases it indicates that the findings pertain to only one of the two categories of challenges or ways to solve them.

This report pays particular attention to the issue of definitions and categorizations, which is particularly important in the study of these sectors. In addition to the fact that categorization is related to many challenges, in many cases the issues of labor regulation or inspection, as well as the issue of workers’ social protection, depend on their categorization – that is, whether the state and its various agencies (including the Labor Inspectorate) see and recognize labor relations. The relevant part of the report (Non-standard and Informal Employment – Concepts and Their Relevance for Georgia) shall discuss the definitions in more detail, and we shall return to the topic of the establishment of labor relations in the legal analysis section.