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Impact

There is nothing inevitable about poor working conditions in the platform economy. Platforms can shape the nature of the jobs that they mediate.

Fairwork collaborates with platforms, regulators, consumers, and worker groups to improve the livelihoods of millions of workers.

Actions by Platforms

We engage with platforms directly to push them to improve working conditions. As Fairwork grows, platforms are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of accountability mechanisms such as the Fairwork framework. By guiding platforms with our principles, we collaborate with them to improve their practices and policies to provide better job and income opportunities for their workers, while building a safer and fairer business.

As a result of our engagement, multiple platforms have agreed to make changes to their working conditions in accordance with the Fairwork principles. From the start of the project in 2018, there have been 274 changes made to platform policies as a result of engagement and dialogue with Fairwork:

  • 33 changes on Fair Pay, for example, implementing a policy to pay workers a minimum wage or a living wage.
  • 50 changes on Fair Conditions, for example, implementing a GDPR-compliant data management policy or introducing sickness insurance.
  • 73 changes on Fair Contracts, for example, translating their contracts or terms and conditions to local languages and changing contracts to be subject to local legislation.
  • 95 changes on Fair Management, for example, improving their appeal process or implementing anti-discrimination policies.
  • 23 changes on Fair Representation, for example, agreeing to the election of a workers’ representative or to engage with local workers’ associations.

Engagement with policymakers and regulators

Our country teams are in regular contact with policymakers and regulating bodies to support them in making evidence-based decisions regarding the regulation of the platform economy, and to advocate for the rights and protection of all platform workers.

Recent policy engagements include:

Africa and the Middle East 

Fairwork Egypt was invited to discuss work arrangements in the informal and gig economy in Egypt at the National Forum on the Future of Work. The panel consisted of several policymakers and high-level stakeholders, including the MEP/Treasurer of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce.

Fairwork Kenya in collaboration with Bill Mutoro, the Assistant General Secretary of the Transport and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), facilitated the formation of an informal group for platform unions and advocates. The group aims to a cross-border understanding and advocacy for platform work in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially towards lobbying relevant stakeholders for more inclusive policies for all platform workers. Currently, the group consists of representatives from the National Union of Professional App-based Transport Workers (NUPABTW) in Nigeria, TAWU and Rights of Digital Comrades (RDCA) in Kenya, a workers’ association in Tanzania, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) network.

Fairwork Kenya in collaboration with Bill Mutoro of TAWU, provided inputs for a case study report titled – “Global: We are All Workers (Platform Work) Kenya Country Case Study”, released on the November 1, 2022. The report provides a basis for the Kenya government to consider regulating the platform economy, which is part of the broader goal for TAWU.

Asia

In India, Fairwork continues to engage with India’s Standing Parliamentary Committee of Information Technology. Dr Balaji Parthasarathy and Dr Janaki Srinivasan provided expert evidence to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and IT on the conditions of platform workers. In addition, Karti Chidambaram sent a letter to India’s Labour Minister, referencing the Fairwork India 2021 scores.

In Indonesia, Fairwork’s report in November 2022 brought government representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Information and Communication into a discussion with worker association and policy advocacy/research institute representatives. This discussion resulted from an earlier engagement in September 2022 when an Indonesian Ministry of Labour representative participated in launching the Year Two report.

The Singapore High Commission invited the Director of Fairwork, Professor Mark Graham and a researcher Dr Adam Badger to meet with Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower and Singapore Trades Union Congress (STUC) to discuss Fairwork’s global evidence base to help shape forthcoming regulation.

In August 2022, Fairwork Pakistan’s partner, the Centre for Labour Research, drafted legislation to give platform workers all workplace rights and covers all Fairwork Principles Platforms. Fairwork Pakistan submitted the draft legislation along with the Fairwork Pakistan report to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and HRD. The legislation would require platforms to register and deposit platform workers’ contributions with social protection agencies if passed. In addition, it would require platforms to share workers’ data with the government.

Europe

Dr Callum Cant, Dr Funda Ustek-Spilda, Dr Matthew Cole, and Professor Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute and Dr James Muldoon of the University of Exeter, submitted evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee regarding AI governance, which was also published as a policy brief.

Dr Alessio Bertolini participated in the European Economic and Social Committee Public Hearing and the Open Society European Policy Institute on the European Commission proposal directive on platform work.

In the UK, the House of Lords released a report based on an inquiry into digitalisation and the future of work, which included key recommendations based on Fairwork’s input, recommending that “The Government should introduce new legislation to provide platform workers with defined and enhanced employment rights. (Paragraph 187)”. Fairwork also gave oral evidence to the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee inquiry on “connected tech: smart or sinister?” and responded with written evidence to the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee on “Governance of Artificial Intelligence”.

In December 2022, Fairwork researchers met with the UK Shadow Minister for Employment Rights, Justin Madders MP to improve working conditions of platform workers. Madders committed to sharing Fairwork scores with all the relevant UK platforms and demanding positive changes to achieve greater levels of fairness in the platform economy. He also committed to staying up to date with the unique Fairwork dataset and using it to shape a future legislative agenda.

In Germany, our “Fairwork Germany Ratings 2021: Labour Standards in the Platform Economy” report was endorsed by Katja Kipping, Senator for Integration, Labour and Social Services of Berlin. The Berlin Senate has also joined the Fairwork Pledge.

Fairwork researcher Daniel Arubayi was invited to UNHCR to learn more about the Fairwork ratings and methodology, especially regarding their PROSPECTS project which is in collaboration with ILO. The aim was to better understand the principles behind scores, the differences between location-based work and online work, for a push to make platform work more sustainable and inclusive for displaced persons.

In October the Fairwork team published the Manifesto for Fairer Platform Work to create pressure around the International Labour Organisation’s meeting of experts on decent work in the platform economy, on 10 to 14 October. The manifesto urges the ILO to develop an international convention on platform work that would consider the challenges for platform workers identified by researchers in the field. The manifesto was signed by more than 300 researchers across the world.

Fairwork met with Serbia’s Ministry of Labour in Belgrade to shed light on continuing harms and risks experienced by platform workers under the current regulatory regime. Ministry of Labour representatives also participated in a meeting held by and engaged with Fairwork Serbia in May 2022, in addition to union representatives, worker activists and platform managers from leading platforms.

Latin America

In July 2022, Fairwork Chile researchers participated in a roundtable discussion on working conditions and employment on digital labour platforms, organized by the Ministry of Labour. The round table provided technical advice in implementing and evaluating the new platform labour Law which came to effect in September this year. Based on this roundtable, a taskforce was put together to work on the implementation of the new law, and Fairwork Chile researchers will be part of this group for at least 6 months.

In January 2022, Fairwork Ecuador team was invited by Congress woman Johana Ortíz to present the Fairwork project at the Ecuadorian Congress as part of the debate, knowledge and resolution of the Report for First Debate of the Legislative Initiatives related to the regime of Labour Relationships in Digital Platforms. Since then, Fairwork Ecuador team has been invited multiple times to give evidence and their input at the Congress on the platform economy and the Fairwork researchers have been invited to feed into the draft platform labour bill in the country.

Fairwork Brazil continues to engage with the new Lula’s pre-government transition team’s committees (such as work relations and communications), highlighting the relevance of an agenda to ensure platform workers’ rights in the next administration (2023-2026). In addition, Fairwork Brazil published articles with recommendations on the national policy agenda for fair work on digital labour platforms.

International

Fairwork researcher Daniel Arubayi was invited to UNHCR to learn more about the Fairwork ratings and methodology, especially regarding their PROSPECTS project which is in collaboration with ILO. The aim was to better understand the principles behind scores, the differences between location-based work and online work, for a push to make platform work more sustainable and inclusive for displaced persons.

In October the Fairwork team published the Manifesto for Fairer Platform Work to create pressure around the International Labour Organisation’s meeting of experts on decent work in the platform economy, on 10 to 14 October. The manifesto urges the ILO to develop an international convention on platform work that would consider the challenges for platform workers identified by researchers in the field. The manifesto was signed by more than 300 researchers across the world.

Influencing Consumer Behaviour

We believe that, given the opportunity to make more informed choices, many consumers will choose the most ethical option when faced with a choice between a poor-scoring platform and a better-scoring one.

Our yearly ratings allow consumers to select the highest-scoring platform operating in a sector, thus contributing to pressure on platforms to improve their working conditions and scores. While most platforms still score pretty low in our rankings, the aim will be to continue to put pressure on platforms through our engagement and research, which will urge platforms to score better and consumers to support better-scoring platforms.

We have developed several campaigns centred around consumers’ role in pressuring platforms to improve working conditions. Fairwork has commissioned three surveys in the UK (London), Brazil (São Paulo) and Colombia (Bogotá) on consumer perceptions about the platform economy. The results were clear, with all three surveys finding that most consumers think platform workers are being denied adequate pay and protections and that there should be more robust regulation of the sector.

The Fairwork pledge allows organisations (investors, businesses, universities, charities, or local governments) to show their support for fairer working conditions in the platform economy. Over 50 organisations from all over the world, covering more than 500,000 members/staff, have signed the pledge, including the Berlin Senate, GIZ, Solidarity Center and Oxford University.

Supporting Workers and Collective Groups

Workers and workers’ organisations are at the core of Fairwork’s model. Through continual engagement with workers’ representatives and advocates, we aim to collectively support workers in asserting their rights and requirements.

Fairwork works regularly with unions and workers’ associations to promote their campaigns and actions on our communication channels. Through the workers’ centre, we also produce content and campaigns to inform workers about our research and offer additional resources to support worker activism. These activities include a list of resources and tools, a directory of unions and workers’ associations and a visual campaign about the importance of the Fairwork principles. We are also developing booklets that summarise findings from our reports, to be distributed to worker groups and supporters.