Fairwork is coming to France!

Posted on 21.07.2021
A delivery man during coronavirus pandemic on a bike in the street of Paris.
Vernerie Yann /

The Fairwork project now has French partners. The research team at the Positive Impact Chair of Audencia Business School in Nantes (André Sobczak, Ariane Berthoin Antal and Ameline Bordas) is about to start applying the Fairwork rating system to international and national labour platforms in Paris and Nantes. They will also involve students in the research to raise awareness about working conditions in the gig economy.

The Positive Impact Chair at Audencia Business School has a long tradition of research in the area of responsible business models to impact academia, students, business and society. It is therefore well placed to meet the double objective of the Fairwork project: to make the conditions of platform workers visible, and to have an impact by actively engaging with the platform management during the rating process in order to improve working conditions.

In France, there are at least 200,000 workers for digital platforms providing different kinds of services. Among them, Deliveroo alone declares more than 14,000 cyclists. As in other countries, these platforms have strongly benefitted from the pandemic. In Paris, 90% of cyclists working for digital platforms are foreigners. French media have increasingly highlighted the precarious working conditions such platforms offer, and the courts have also started addressing the problem. The Court of Cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, examined the situation and decided that delivery cyclists and drivers working for digital platforms should be considered as employees rather than independent workers. However, several courts of appeal continue to use the same reasoning to declare that they are independent workers. This creates a legal uncertainty. Moreover, it is difficult for workers, in particular those from other countries, to go to court to demand that their rights be respected. Several initiatives are thus trying to introduce legislation to better protect the workers, but so far none has recognized workers of digital platforms as employees. The focus of attention in France has been on the situation of bicycle delivery service providers, but the research team will study the conditions of workers in other service sectors, as the teams are doing in other countries in the Fairwork network.

The first Fairwork rating of labour platforms in France will be published in the summer of 2022.