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Second Fairwork UK report out now: Which platforms are offering fair working conditions in the UK?

Posted on 10.06.2022
Fairwork UK 22 - Blog

The ‘Fairwork UK Ratings 2022: Collective Worker Power’ report evaluates 15 popular platforms across a diverse range of sectors, including food delivery, grocery delivery, ride hailing, care work, and cleaning services.  

Platform workers have disproportionally experienced negative impacts on their livelihoods from both the pandemic and inflation. With increasing cost of essential food and household items, fuel prices soaring, and new taxes on health services being added, more and more platform workers are being pushed toward in-work poverty. On top of that, between 2016 and 2021 the number of workers in the UK estimated to rely of digital labour platforms for their income more than doubled: from 5.8 percent of the working-age population to 14.7. 

Pedal Me, Getir, Gorillas, Uber, Amazon Flex, Deliveroo, Stuart, Just Eat, Ola, Task Rabbit, Uber Eats, Care.com, Bolt, Helpling, and Yoopies have been scored out ten against five principles of fair work – Fair Pay, Fair Conditions, Fair Contracts, Fair Management, and Fair Representation. Evidence on whether platforms comply with these five principles was collected through desk research, interviews with workers, and platform-provided evidence. The evidence was then used to assign a Fairwork score out of ten to each platform. 

For a second year in a row, e-cargo company Pedal Me topped the ratings with a score of 9 points out of 10. Delivery companies Getir and Gorillas, both newcomers to the UK delivery sector, scored eight out of ten and seven out of ten respectively in the Fairwork 2022 ratings. Meanwhile household names like Deliveroo and Just Eat saw their scores fall compared to last year’s ratings, with Just Eat scoring 1 out of ten, compared to 6 out of ten in 2021, and Deliveroo scoring 4 out of ten, compared to 5 out of ten in 2021. While ride hailing giant Uber improved its score in the Fairwork report from 2 points to 4 points since the Supreme Court ruling last year, the Fairwork report finds they still could not evidence they meet important thresholds for Fair Contracts, Fair Management or Fair Pay. 

In positive news, the report found that high scoring platforms such as Pedal Me, Getir and Gorillas, all use employment contracts with their riders as standard practice, providing all workers the associated statutory rights and benefits. Furthermore, labour platforms Stuart and Deliveroo have introduced sickness insurance schemes and other measures that provide a social safety net (albeit with limited remit) for their workers. Meanwhile Amazon Flex has introduced a policy that does not hold delivery drivers liable for lost, stolen, or damaged parcels – a major problem couriers have been experiencing in the sector. There have also been victories around data protection and the use of facial recognition technology at Ola. 

The improvements we see in this new round of ratings for the UK platform economy are the result of the organising efforts of unions and workers associations like ADCU, GMB, IWGB, and the Nanny Solidarity Network. The past years have been marked by landmark victories from platform workers in the UK through both legislation and collective action. For Uber drivers, organising efforts resulted in a landmark change to the business model of the platform and contracting liabilities of the workers. We have also seen the longest running strike against a digital labour platform, with couriers contesting the change in payment systems on Stuart.

Key findings:

Fair Pay: Only 3 of the platforms (Getir, Gorillas and Pedal Me) could evidence that they could ensure workers’ gross pay is at or above the minimum wage (£9.50/ hour). The same three platforms could also evidence that their workers earn a living wage (£9.90/hour for the UK and
£11.50/hour for London) 

Fair Conditions: Out of 15 platforms, Amazon Flex, Deliveroo, Getir, Gorillas, Pedal Me, Stuart, and Uber  were able to evidence that they take meaningful action to mitigate task-specific risks. Specifically, platforms ensured safety equipment is provided, emergency response systems are in place, and private insurance is free of charge. However, only two platforms (Getir and Pedal Me) could evidence that they took steps to ensure a safety net for their workers.

Fair Contracts: 10 platforms (Amazon Flex, Care.com, Deliveroo, Getir, Gorillas, Just Eat, Pedal Me, Taskrabbit, Uber, and Uber Eats) have clear and accessible terms and conditions. However, only three platforms (Getir, Gorillas and Pedal Me) were able to evidence that they ensured that no unfair contract terms were imposed on workers, and that they do not unreasonably exclude the service user and/or the platform from liability for working conditions.

Fair Management: 5 platforms (Amazon Flex, Deliveroo, Getir, Gorillas, Pedal Me, and Stuart) could evidence an effective system of due process for decisions affecting workers, which means that there is a clear and documented process for workers to meaningfully appeal low ratings, non-payment, payment issues, deactivations, and other penalties and disciplinary actions. The same 5 have issued public statements in support of equality, diversity and inclusion, and implemented meaningful policies to combat discrimination, yet only four met the second point for Fair Management. 

Fair Representation: Collective organisation and representation is a fundamental right for workers and employees in most countries, yet ‘self-employed’ workers lack this right in the UK. Only 2 of the platforms – Pedal me and Uber – could evidence that they ensure freedom of association and the expression of collective worker voice. One of the most significant developments over the past year is the voluntary recognition of the GMB union by Uber. 

The Fairwork Pledge 

As part of Fairwork’s commitment to making platforms accountable for their labour practices, we have launched the Fairwork Pledge. This pledge aims to encourage other organisations to support decent labour practices in the platform economy, guided by the five principles of fair work. 

Organisations like universities, schools, businesses, investors and charities that make use of platform labour can make a difference by supporting platforms that offer better working conditions. 

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 about what platforms to use. 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. 

The Oxford Internet Institute, The University of Oxford School of Geography and the Environment, The Church of England Diocese of Oxford, the Good Business Charter, The New Economics Foundation and Meatspace Press have already signed the pledge. Join them in demanding a fairer future of work.