ABSTRACT

Introduction A widespread assumption has been that when one engages in formal labour, it is paid. However, it takes but a moment’s reflection to realise that some formal employment is not paid. To see this, one has only to think about unpaid internships in the private, public and third sectors of the economy, which many people now undertake in order to gain work experience and improve their employability. It is also the case that potential employees of an organisation sometimes undertake one-week or one-month trials on an unpaid basis so that employers can judge their suitability for the post. In these instances, the unpaid worker usually expects an offer of paid formal employment at the end of the unpaid trial period. There is often an overlap, therefore, between paid formal employment and this so far little discussed realm of unpaid formal employment. Although such unpaid formal employment occurs in the private and public sectors and appears to be a burgeoning realm, it is not perhaps the most significant segment of unpaid formal employment in post-Soviet societies. It is in third sector organisations (TSOs) that this practice is perhaps most prevalent, where it is more commonly termed ‘formal volunteering’, which refers to ‘giving help through groups, clubs or organisations to benefit other people or the environment’ (Low et al. 2008: 11). Volunteering is composed of two major types of engagement: formal volunteering, which is a form of unpaid formal labour; and informal volunteering, which involves the provision of one-to-one help on an unpaid basis to others who do not live in one’s household but in the wider community. This latter type of work practice was considered in Chapter 7. Here, we focus upon formal volunteering as a form of unpaid formal employment that sits further along the formal/informal continuum towards informality than unpaid formal employment in private and public sector organisations, but nevertheless sits firmly in this category of unpaid formal employment. Second, this chapter addresses a work practice that has seldom been analysed in post-Soviet societies, namely informal unpaid employment. This is where somebody is employed by an organisation on an unpaid basis, as above, but the employer or employee does not adhere to all the rules and regulations required. This applies to those working on an unpaid basis in private, public and TSOs. To

understand what is covered by this work practice, let us take the example of somebody engaged in unpaid volunteering by giving help through groups, clubs or organisations to benefit other people or the environment. Unlike formal volunteering, where the person adheres to all the regulations attached to such an endeavour, such as having the licences to do so, ‘informal’ unpaid employment/ volunteering does not. Sometimes, for example, those engaged in unpaid volunteering in community-based groups might do so illegitimately or informally. This is what we here mean by unpaid informal employment. For example, it might occur when a community-based group is set up to care for children, but without the required licences to act as child carer. Alternatively, it might take place when operating a sporting group, community fund-raising or music event without the necessary licences. Until now, this labour practice has been little discussed in any literature. To evaluate the extent and nature of unpaid formal labour in post-Soviet societies, we will first review previous research on both unpaid formal employment in the private and public sectors and formal volunteering in post-Soviet societies. Second, we will turn our attentions to unravelling the extent and character of this labour practice in Ukraine, along with a slightly richer and more textured understanding of its role and meanings, followed in the third section by a similar review of its magnitude and character in Moscow. Following this, and to assess the extent and nature of the more ‘informal’ forms of unpaid employment in the private and public sectors and how formal volunteering can sometimes be conducted informally, we will first interrogate the interviews conducted in Ukraine to evaluate the extent to which this is a livelihood practice and its nature, and following this, we will evaluate the Moscow interviews to again evaluate its extent and character in this post-Soviet context. The outcome will be a review of some economic practices that have so far received little attention in the literature on post-Soviet societies.