The Fairwork Foundation has collaboratively developed the following five principles through three stakeholder workshops that we hosted in 2018. The first was run together with the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. The second, was co-organised with Research ICT Africa in Johannesburg; and the third was co-organised in Bangalore with the International Institute of Information Technology.


Fairness relating to pay includes levels of pay, considering both minimum and living wages. Along with the amount of remuneration, this also involves fair pay terms including ensuring that workers costs are met. For location-based and macrowork, platforms protect against non-payment for completed work. For microwork platforms, non-payment is effectively regulated.


Fair conditions cover the way in which the work is carried out. This includes aspects of the tasks being clear with reasonable timing, and particularly on microwork platforms, reviewed before posting to the platform. Health and safety is an important consideration, particularly in relation to risky work, but also relating to working hours and task specific concerns (like exposure to stressful or damaging content). The platform should provide stable employment and the possibility of further employment opportunities or career development.


The key issue with fairness of contracts is the employment status of the worker and whether this reflects the employment relationship. Self-employment status should not be used unless it accurately captures the worker’s status. Platforms should comply with employment law, including fair contract terms, vicarious liability, risk insurance, shared liabilities, and social provisions.


Fair governance involves how the platform operates across five dimensions. First, management, involving fairness in relation to the work process, including disciplinary practices. Second, communication, with clear lines of contact between workers and a representative of the platform. Third, accountability, involving transparency in relation to decision-making processes. Fourth, use of data, which should be justified with a clear purpose and only with explicit informed consent. Fifth, equality, which is cross-cutting and ensures no discrimination.


Fair representation requires that workers have a voice on the platform. Workers have the right to be heard by a platform representative and there should be a clear process by which workers can lodge complaints, receive a response, and access a dispute resolution process. The platform observes the ILO right to free association, not linked to worker status, but as a universal right. Similarly, the platform accepts collective representation of workers and collective bargaining.


These principles form the basis for our ranking and certification processes. Platforms that are interested in achieving certification are welcome to get in touch.