A CEDAH (Central Database of Available Hours) can sit within any other website. It stores, potentially, millions of specific hours when a person, or resource, is available. It knows what they are permitted and willing to do. Multiple rules and legal controls about potential bookings are stored. Hours can be bought instantly.
Here’s some of the ways it can work. Our example users are fictitious. The technology is real.
Demo: care workers
This 5 min. video, shot for an Aspen Institute webinar in 2015, shows CEDAH technology from a worker’s perspective:
Part 2 shows an employer making a booking:
Example transaction: street warden
Raf is 21, unskilled, working for a friend’s scaffolding operation as needed while applying for jobs. He lives in the London Borough of Walford and has registered online with the WalWork agency. Their website offers a channel for irregular work which uses a CEDAH.
As soon as Raf registers, he is asked to select the kinds of role in which he is willing to work (or volunteer). He selects entry level tasks: cleaning, gardening, errands, environmental clean-ups and building site labor.
But he aspires to qualification as a security guard. To build experience in relevant public facing work he also selects roles like marshalling at events, door staff in nightclubs, leafleting and shelf stacking in stores.
Then he needs to enter a first tranche of hours that he is available. He can set up a recurring weekly pattern. But his job-seeking and on-call work don’t allow that kind of structure, he will have to update availability every few days, or even on the day.
Now he needs to be approved by WalWork. They will confirm to CEDAH what certification and vetting, if any, Raf has. This may mean some roles he has selected will be barred if he is not qualified. Once WalWork is satisfied, they tell the CEDAH Raf is cleared into WalWork’s market. The system will add their specified margin on his bookings while they remain responsible for his payrolling.
Raf’s available hours can now be booked for his approved roles. The CEDAH has made market entry easy; he will only be displayed for bookings that are close to home and give him reasonable notice.
A charity in Walford specifically targets young people, new to CEDAH, who have been flagged by their agency as from a deprived part of the borough. They fund a first few bookings working on local projects. It’s a cost effective way of getting under 25’s quickly onto the labor market ladder.
Within a week, Raf has a track record of three bookings, each lasting around 2 hours. He has cleaned a park, dredged a pond and weeded at a home for seniors. He’s proved himself and become viable for other buyers. A local cleaning company tries him out, rates him favourably then rebooks him days later to cover staff absence.
Playing the market
Confident in how the market works, Raf might now change the rules for which he will accept bookings. Instead of the CEDAH ensuring he only gets unchallenging assignments, he may decide he is willing to play the market his way. To encourage this, his agency allow him to control his pricing so it aligns with his willingness to work.
He goes to his My Rules page, decides to try a slightly higher base rate and opens Advanced settings:
Raf is willing to travel to get work. But he needs costs covered. He decides he will experiment with an 8 mile travel radius based around his home.
He is also happy to do bookings at short notice at times he is available. Again, WalWork allow him to charge a premium for this.
And he has decided he has no objections to short length bookings, as long as he gets a higher hourly rate.
He can also cap his weekly hours below legal controls. And he may be more expensive for any hours he is booked on particular days. Raf likes to spend Sunday with his fishing club. But he will give that up if the money is tempting. Again, it’s his choice.
After 20 bookings, the CEDAH knows Raf has a track record of diverse reliability and a willingness to work responsively. He now meets the requirements of local employers who maintain a pool of inducted CEDAH workers who can be called in as needed.
Walford’s local government delivers many public services through the CEDAH because it cuts costs and fosters responsiveness. They maintain a pool of authorized street wardens living around the borough. Raf’s selected roles, proven reliability and flexibility makes him eligible.
Local government staff have set up a specific CEDAH role for Street Wardens. It specifies the vetting, training and behaviour required.
The council want to up their number of on-tap wardens. Raf gets an alert from the CEDAH; will he accept a new role? His controls on travel distance, period of notice, session length and maximum bookable hours will determine if he is put forward for these bookings. But the council have applied a fixed pay rate. It will over-ride his dynamic pricing rules for street warden bookings. On the plus side, there will be paid-for vetting and training plus it’s the kind of work he wants. He accepts the additional role.
Within days Raf is booked, along with five other sellers, for an initial three-hour induction. He is taught how to support a senior street warden and provided with a tabard to be worn on bookings for this role. Meanwhile, a local supermarket also runs a pool of top-up headcount to be pulled in when trading is heavy. He accepts a role as “Archer Stores, replenishment assistant” and waits for the two hour session when he will be paid to learn the store’s procedures and layout.
With 8 employers now showing in his track record, Raf finds household buyers are comfortable booking him. He begins to get assignments dropping off dry cleaning and cutting lawns for local people. All this activity is objectively recorded on his My Bookings screen.
Buying in a CEDAH
Mary has been authorised to purchase local services by Walford Council. Her ward has a devolved budget of £5,250 a year which they use to buy cleaners for public areas, youth workers and street wardens. Residents in Station Road have rung a helpline routed to Mary to report anti-social behavior by children after school. It is now Monday lunchtime. She is going to book three street wardens one day this week to reassure and report.
Mary accesses the CEDAH through an agency called LocalGovServices. She clicks Make a booking and is asked for her requirements. To start, she has to select the local budget against which she will buy. Walford Council has told the CEDAH to manage these budgets on a weekly cycle. If funds, and the permitted overdraft limit, are exhausted she cannot book without specific permission.
On the LocalGovServices website, she tells the CEDAH what she needs. It shows her what is in the database and asks her to select some hours.
Having selected 16.00 to 18.00 this afternoon, she sees the individuals she can pick from.
There is a lot going on behind the screens above. All Mary needs to know is that everyone she can see is genuinely available at those times, ready and willing to do her booking in every respect. Each is contactable in plenty of time. All would be legally compliant to do this booking in terms of qualifications, vetting, individual working hours, minimum wage for their age group and minimum breaks for their age this week.
Mary is seeing people approved as Walford Street Wardens at the top of her list. To maximise her choices, there is also ready, willing, available, legally compliant people who are vetted for a general security and safety role. But they are not subject to the specific Walford contract. Everyone on the contract has accepted a fixed rate. The rest are dynamically priced depending on how much freedom their agency allows and their personal preferences. In each case, the hourly rate includes tax, agency mark-up and a charge that funds the CEDAH.
Mary is seeing workers from her agency, but also those from agencies who LocalGovServices are willing to partner with. WalWork meets LocalGovServices’ requirements, a margin-split has been agreed in the CEDAH, and Raf is showing for this booking. He has a 2 star rating for the role which means he has only been trained to junior level.
Mary can shop around the list, ordering everyone by hourly rate, track record, number of buyers or agency. Any photo can be clicked to see full details, and certification, for that worker. But she is in a hurry and just quickly selects the obvious candidates.
To keep costs down, Mary books one warden trained to senior level, Raf to assist and a third worker who is from the general pool. The third worker was the cheapest for this booking (but fully legal in every respect), most likely because they are very local and keen on this sort of booking. Mary likes to give such people a break, possibly flagging them for future offers of Walford training after a booking.
Now she is asked for Reporting Instructions to be passed to her workers. She selects a template and amends it for this session.
One click and it’s all booked. In the background the system checks those three workers are still available. They may have been booked by other employers while Mary was making her choices.
Responding to a booking
A few blocks away, Raf gets a text message. It gives him details of the booking and tells him how long he has to confirm. Because he will do short notice assignments, he does not mind that he has only 30 minutes this time. He knows he is only getting a message because he has an assignment within all his parameters, at times he wants to work and a buyer has committed to pay his rate. He texts back the Yes code for this booking and receives the Reporting Instructions on his phone.
Mary sees that Raf has confirmed immediately. If the CEDAH doesn’t get confirmation from all workers by the time it has allowed it can alert her with a text while there is plenty of time to re-book. As Raf confirms, a timesheet is created for the booking.
The CEDAH checks that assignments get done. Every confirmed booking generates a system timesheet populated with the hours booked. Hours can be amended, some agencies allow expenses to be added or invite feedback. Buyer and Seller have to approve a timesheet before budgets are charged or payments made.
Approved timesheets are the building blocks of Raf’s valuable trading record in the CEDAH. To increase their number, and range, he chooses to flexibly volunteer through the system. When he is available, but not booked, he can be assigned to unpaid work within his controls. Keen on sports and wanting to boost his public interactions he gives some of his unsold hours to coach at local sports centers. An instructor then approves the timesheets.
This afternoon’s booking as a street warden will be one more timesheet for Raf. The booking, expenditure record and report from the booking are automatically posted on the council’s website. Residents in Walford can see exactly how their concerns are handled, where their money goes and who signed off the timesheets to say all was satisfactory.
Later in the afternoon, Mary gets another call: drains are blocked and overflowing in Springfield Road. She is out, but has her phone. Thirty seconds after the call an authorized, competitively priced, inducted, demonstrably reliable, very local worker is on her way to clean up.
Around Walford; cafes, offices, industrial premises, households and service centres are deploying local irregular labor just as efficiently.
A CEDAH is just a very sophisticated booking engine. It takes out the hassle and uncertainty of making arrangements, driven by a high-volume, low cost model. This leaves room for consumer facing brands to add value in all sorts of ways. Intermediaries that incorporate a CEDAH in their offering could be traditional recruiters, public bodies or voluntary operations. They could include web marketplaces which slot a CEDAH into their site to enable fast, legitimate, bookings in a relevant geography. This would mirror the way they slot in modules from companies like Worldpay which handle card payments in return for a small margin.
Agency functions would depend on the extent of official backing,
A CEDAH is predicated on public sector initiation (because government bodies are such big potential buyers of local flexi-labor and need to attract activity into the tax-paying economy). Some government bodes can also permit access to official databases. This would cut costs of irregular workers, increase vetting and widen opportunity. There is a spectrum of agency functions:
- Low interfacing: with no, or little, access to official databases, agencies have to check qualifications. If a worker specifies they have a Food Hygiene certificate, required to work in British catering kitchens for instance, she will have to visit the agency with proof.
- High interfacing: with a worker’s permission, the CEDAH can look up her record on the database of Food Hygiene certificates, driving licences, authorization to work with children, permit to work in the UK, or other qualifications. Agencies compete much more on development of workers or low overheads.
Low interfacing will typically follow a local government launch. Support from national government could deliver high interfacing. In both models, agencies would be pivotal in payrolling workers for the foreseeable future. Payment for services could be through invoicing after an agency accepts an employer as bona fide or by credit card. Online card payments would involve a higher level of risk but a CEDAH could manage that by ringfencing such bookings by a first time buyer for particularly experienced, robust, workers.