Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you have a question that isn’t answered here, or would like to get in touch with the project, please go to our Contact page to get in touch, or alternatively, please feel free to reach out on Facebook or Twitter.
- What Does Fairwork Do?
Fairwork evaluates the labour conditions of digital platforms in the gig economy internationally, and ranks individual platforms on how well, or how poorly, they do. The project has developed a series of standards that digital platforms should comply with in order to be considered Fairwork complaint.
- What is Fairwork? Who funds it?
Fairwork is a project based at the the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The project also receives funding from ESRC/GCRF, the ERC, and Ox-Ber. The project is conducted in collaboration with the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-B), the University of Cape Town, the University of Manchester, the University of the Western Cape, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, and The Technical University of Berlin.
- Which companies are covered by the Fairwork standards?
Fairwork focuses on companies that use digital platforms to distribute piecemeal work to workers who need access to an app or website to undertake it.
- What are Fairwork principles (i)?
They are principles that we believe all fair work should be characterised by. Irrespective of how work is classified, organised, managed, and carried out, it should adhere to principles of fair work.
- What are the Fairwork principles (ii)?
The principles are:
Principle 1: Fair Pay
1.1 – Pays at least the local minimum wage
1.2 – Pays the minimum wage plus costs
Principle 2: Fair Conditions
2.1. Mitigates task-specific risks
2.2. Actively improves working conditions
Principle 3: Fair Contracts
3.1 – Clear terms and conditions are available
3.2 – The contract genuinely reflects the nature of the employment relationship
Principle 4: Fair Management
4.1 – There is due process for decisions affecting workers
4.2 – There is equity in the management process or informed consent for data collection
Principle 5: Fair Representation
5.1 – There are worker voice mechanisms and freedom of association
5.2 – There is a collective body of workers that is recognised, and that can undertake collective representation and bargaining
- Why do you have five principles and ten points?
We give every platform a score out of ten based on their adherence to our five principles. Each single principle is comprised of a basic point and an advanced point.
- How are the scores calculated?
We start with desk research on the platforms that operate in a given location. This involves ascertaining which platforms are operating, their size, and channels that we can use to connect with workers.
We then approach platforms for interview. Interviews involve meeting with a platform manager and asking them to provide evidence for each point on the Fairwork ranking. This provides insights into the operation and business model of the platform, while also opening up a dialogue through which the platform can agree to implement changes based on the Fairwork principles.
We also interview workers from each platform. Between six and ten workers are interviewed for each platform. These interviews do not aim to build a representative sample, but rather confirm or refute that policies or practices are in place on the platform.
For each principle that a platform adheres to, it is awarded up to two points by the Fairwork team. Every platform can up to ten points.
A full methodology can be found here.
- How can Fairwork prove that a company does not comply?
Platforms are only given a score when they can satisfactorily demonstrate their implementation of the principles. This means that failing to achieve a point does not necessarily mean that a platform does not comply with the principle in question, but that it was not able to demonstrate its compliance. This in itself is important, as clear and institutionalised rules and regulations are a key aspect of fair working conditions.
- How were the principles arrived at?
The Fairwork principles were developed at a number of workshops bringing together workers, platforms, trade unions, and labour activists at the ILO, UNCTAD, as well as in India (Bangalore and Ahmedabad) and South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg).
- Can platforms that are not yet rated receive a certification?
Any platforms that wishes to be Fairwork certified can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. They should be able to demonstrate that they comply with the principles. We cross-check all information with publicly available data and reports, a Worker Feedback feature on our website, and occasional anonymous interviews with workers. In cases where there are discrepancies, we will seek further supporting evidence.
- Are there any specific requirements on platforms that ask to be certified?
Platforms wishing to be certified will be asked to pay a fee to finance the process of research, data gathering, and compilation. The process should be carried out within three months of the Fairwork team receiving the evidentiary data from the platform. Scores will then be posted on the fair.work website on a bespoke page for your company.
- How long does certification last?
Platforms will also be able to use our certified score on their websites, promotional materials, and products. When used on websites and apps, the kitemark should link back to your company page on the Fairwork website. All awarded scores will be valid for a period of twelve months, after which the platform and/or Fairwork can decide whether to initiate a reappraisal. If no reappraisal is carried out then the previous score will expire and platforms will be asked to take down any Fairwork certification on their materials.
- Can anybody use the Fairwork method?
We are working with collaborators who are using the Fairwork principles and methods in their own cities. If you wish to discuss collaboration, please get in touch at email@example.com
- Has Fairwork had any impact?
Yes. After collaborating with Fairwork, the South African platform Bottles committed to support the emergence of fair workers representation on its platform, free from company interference. Similarly, in discussion with Fairwork, the NoSweat platform has introduced significant changes in all five areas of fairness. It now has a formal policy to pay over the South African minimum wage after workers’ costs are taken into account, it has a clear process to ensure clients on the platform agree to protect workers’ health and safety and for workers to lodge grievance about conditions.
- If I disagree with a specific platform’s Fairwork score, what can I do?
If you have specific information that could shed new light on an existing Fairwork score, you can submit your evidence anonymously via the Worker Feedback Form.
- Does Fairwork guarantee worker anonymity?
Yes. The specific information that we receive will be dealt with anonymously and will never be made public or shared with platforms. Comments will be used by us to either request further supporting evidence from platforms or to re-evaluate platform scores.
- Where can I follow Fairwork’s future developments?