Promoting fair work on digital platforms
At a glance
The gig economy is characterised by a labour market comprised of freelance and short term jobs, so called ‘gigs’, in which organisations contract with independent workers on a non-permanent basis, rather than traditionally recruiting full-time employees. The gigs are usually mediated via digital labour platforms and can be either conveyed and carried out online as cloudwork (e.g., programming or content creation) or be conveyed online and carried out in an analogue and localised manner as location-based work (e.g. delivery services).
Around 40 million people in low- and middle-income countries earn part or their entire income in the gig economy, and the figure is rising. Digital platforms contribute to the creation of employment and income by lowering entry barriers. Platforms act as intermediaries that connect supply and demand, but also set the framework and rules for exchange and behaviour of workers and clients.
Despite their central position, platform companies often act purely as intermediaries and classify workers as independent contractors or self-employed. This eliminates important statutory duties of, for instance, paying a minimum wage or collective bargaining rights which leads to a precariousness of work and growing power asymmetries between platforms and workers. The risks for workers are amongst others poor pay, non-transparent dismissals, a lack of professional development opportunities and regulated processes to appeal against decisions made by the platforms, long working hours and many more. There is a lack of suitable conditions, knowledge and instruments to promote fair work in the gig economy nationally and internationally. This is where the flagship gig economy comes into play.
The aim of the gig economy flagship is to create the necessary conditions for fair work in the gig economy at the level of 1) workers (micro level), 2) platforms (meso level) and 3) key stakeholders from politics, business and civil society (macro level). This is achieved through capacity development among relevant actors, global expansion of an evaluation mechanism for the fairness of the platforms as well as national and international awareness raising for the potentials and dangers of the gig economy.
The project builds on the results of the collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute in improving work on digital platforms and complements it at the level of workers and decision-makers. This holistic approach is developed to:
- enable workers to know their rights and acquire skills in demand,
- provide impulses so that platforms take measures for fair work, and
- support the aspirations through the development of agile regulatory frameworks.
The ultimate goal of the flagship is to promote fair work, while counteracting unfair practices on the three levels.