New report presents the first-ever set of Fairwork platform ratings for Ghana. The working conditions at 10 major digital platforms were assessed and scored out of 10 on the basis of the Fairwork principles. The platform scores range from 1-7, showing the heterogeneity in the quality of work across platforms in Ghana. However, many household names like Uber, Bolt and Jumia Food scored at the bottom of the Fairwork league table, highlighting the urgent need for a national conversation on the quality of work in the burgeoning platform economy.
The platform economy in Ghana has grown rapidly in recent years, with companies like Uber, Bolt and Black Ride in the ride-hailing space, and Jumia Food and Glovo in the food delivery sector. These platforms are often heralded as offering a solution to the country’s persistent youth unemployment challenge, and indeed, an estimated 60,000 – 100,000 Ghanaians rely on the platform economy for their livelihoods. However, this rapid growth has also raised questions about the quality of work that these platforms provide.
As in other parts of the world, platform workers in Ghana are typically classified by platforms as self-employed ‘independent contractors’ (in contrast to ‘employees’) and, therefore, are not covered by Ghanaian labour regulations pertaining to minimum wages, maximum hours, working conditions, and the right to collective bargaining. Consequently, there is an urgent need to look beyond simply the scale of work in the platform economy, to additionally examine the quality of platform work.
To this end, the Fairwork project has set out to assess labour practices in the Ghanaian platform economy. Fairwork is an international research project that evaluates working conditions on digital platforms; it is currently doing this in 26 countries across 5 continents, including six African countries—Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa. This first Fairwork report in Ghana is the result of a year-long collaboration between the University of Ghana Business School, the University of Oxford (UK), and the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre (Germany).
The Fairwork Ghana 2021 ratings evaluate the working conditions in 10 digital labour platforms (Black Ride, Eziban, Glovo, iFerch, Swift-Wheels, Bolt, Bolt Food, Jumia Food, Uber and Yango) against five global principles of fair work – fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation. We gave each platform a fairness rating out of 10, with points awarded only if there is clear evidence that the principle is being met. Black Ride leads the 2021 table with seven points, with Eziban in second place with six points. Five platforms—Bolt, Bolt Food, Jumia Food, Uber and Yango—are tied in last place at the bottom of the table with one point.
- Fair Pay: There was sufficient evidence that workers on 9 of the 10 platforms earned the minimum wage after accounting for costs (GHs12.53/day). However, this could arguably be due to the low statutory minimum wage rate, and not an indication of fair earnings in the platform economy. In fact, there was insufficient evidence that workers on any of the platforms earned the living wage rate after accounting for costs (GHs 35.4/day). In other words, we were unable to evidence that workers on any of the ten platforms earned enough to meet the standard of decent living. This highlights the need for regulation and worker consultation on matters of pay.
- Fair Conditions: 5 platforms were able to evidence that they took action to protect workers from work-related risks. However, we found unsafe and dangerous working conditions to be a daily concern for workers (particularly in the ride-hailing sector). This is an area that platforms need to urgently and proactively address. Only one platform (Eziban) was able to demonstrate that it provided a safety net for workers.
- Fair Contracts: With the exception of Black Ride and Glovo, there was insufficient evidence that clear and transparent terms and conditions were made available to workers by platforms. We also found evidence of extensive subcontracting arrangements whereby platforms engaged intermediary subcontractors who in turn engaged workers. Workers were often unclear who was responsible for their working conditions and for the payment of wages. Only one platform (Glovo) was able to demonstrate that it did not impose unfair contract terms onto workers.
- Fair Management: Five platforms were able to evidence that they provided due process through a channel by which workers could communicate and appeal disciplinary decisions. including deactivations. Only Black Ride and Eziban were awarded the advanced point, for issuing public anti-discrimination policies, and committing to proactive measures to advance equity on their platforms.
- Fair Representation: With the exception of Black Ride and Eziban, platform companies fared poorly when it came to acknowledging a collective voice for workers. Black Ride was the only platform that went even further to recognise an independent collective body of workers publicly and formally.
The 2021 ratings saw several platforms having good practices, such as the ride-hailing platform Black Ride which implemented a rider identification policy to improve drivers’ safety. In conversation with Fairwork, Black Ride and Eziban (a food delivery company) implemented anti-discrimination policies and committed to proactively improving equity on their platform, while Glovo changed its contract with workers to be governed under Ghanaian laws (it was previously only contestable in Spanish courts).
However, beyond these positive examples, the 2021 Fairwork Ghana ratings show that there is still much to be done in order to make platform work fair in Ghana. Platform workers, often from vulnerable backgrounds, continue to do work that is dangerous, precarious, and pays barely enough to survive. Platforms can, and must, improve conditions for their workers. While some might do this voluntarily, unsurprisingly, many don’t.
The low scores of some of the most popular platforms in the country clearly demonstrate the need for regulatory reform and enforcement to ensure platform workers are no longer falling through the cracks. This report provides a comparative overview and baseline on the current situation of the country’s platform economy, which will be updated on a yearly basis. By raising awareness of platform workers’ experiences in Ghana and across the world, Fairwork aims to assist workers, consumers and regulators in making platforms accountable for their practices, and building a fairer future of work in this growing sector of the economy.
A more accessible version of the report is also available.
The Fairwork Pledge
As part of Fairwork’s commitment to making platforms accountable for their labour practices, we are launching the Fairwork Pledge. The pledge aims to encourage other organisations to support best labour practices, guided by the five principles of fair work.
Organisations like universities, schools, businesses, and charities that make use of platform labour can make a difference by supporting the best labour practices, guided by our five principles of fair work. Organisations have the option to sign up to the Pledge as an official Fairwork Supporter or an official Fairwork Partner. Those signing up to be a Supporter must demonstrate their support for fairer platform work publicly and provide their staff with appropriate resources to make informed decisions in their supply chains. Becoming a Fairwork Partner entails making a public commitment to implement changes in their own internal practices, such as committing to using better-rated platforms when there is a choice.