Language:

Gig Work Principles

These principles came into effect on January 1st, 2021. They do not apply to ongoing fieldwork that started in 2020. You can consult the previous version (20.06) of the principles here.

Principle 1: Fair Pay

1.1 - Pays at least the local minimum wage after costs (one point)

Platform workers often have substantial work-related costs to cover, such as transport between jobs, supplies, or fuel, insurance, and maintenance on a vehicle.[1] Workers’ costs sometimes mean their take-home earnings may fall below the local minimum wage.[2] Workers also absorb the costs of extra time commitment, when they spend time waiting or travelling between jobs, or other unpaid activities necessary for their work, which are also considered active hours.[3] To achieve this point platforms must demonstrate that work-related costs do not push workers below local minimum wage.

The platform must satisfy the following:

  • Workers earn at least the local minimum wage, or the wage set by collective sectoral agreement (whichever is higher) in the place where they work, in their active hours, after costs.[4] 

1.2 - Pays at least a local living wage after costs (one additional point)

In some places, the minimum wage is not enough to allow workers to afford a basic but decent standard of living. To achieve this point platforms must ensure that workers earn a living wage.

The platform must satisfy the following:

  • Workers earn at least a local living wage, or the wage set by collective sectoral agreement (whichever is higher) in the place where they work, in their active hours, after costs.[5],[6]

Principle 2: Fair Conditions

2.1 - Mitigates task-specific risks (one point)

Platform workers may encounter a number of risks in the course of their work, including accidents and injuries, harmful materials, and crime and violence. To achieve this point platforms must show that they are aware of these risks, and take steps to mitigate them. In addition, platforms must show that they seek to improve working conditions even when basic risks are addressed.

Platforms must satisfy the following:

  • There are policies or practices in place that protect workers’ safety from task-specific risks.[7]
  • Platforms take adequate, responsible and ethical data protection and management measures, laid out in a documented policy.

2.2 - Provides a safety net (one additional point)

Platform workers are vulnerable to the possibility of abruptly losing their income as the result of unexpected or external circumstances, such as sickness or injury. Most countries provide a social safety net to ensure workers don’t experience sudden poverty due to circumstances outside their control. However, platform workers usually don’t qualify for protections such as sick pay, because of their independent contractor status. In recognition of the fact that most workers are dependent on income from the platform for their livelihood, platforms can achieve this point by providing compensation for loss of income due to inability to work.

Platforms must satisfy BOTH of the following:

  • Platforms take meaningful steps to compensate workers for income loss due to inability to work commensurate with the worker’s average earnings over the past three months.
  • Where workers are unable to work for an extended period due to unexpected circumstances, their standing on the platform is not negatively impacted.

Principle 3: Fair Contracts

3.1 - Provides clear and transparent terms and conditions (one point)

The terms and conditions governing platform work are not always clear and accessible to workers.[8] To achieve this point the platform must demonstrate that workers are able to understand, agree to, and access the conditions of their work at all times, and that they have legal recourse if the platform breaches those conditions.

The platform must satisfy ALL of the following:

  • The party contracting with the worker must be identified in the contract, and subject to the law of the place in which the worker works.
  • The contract is communicated in full in clear and comprehensible language that workers could be expected to understand.
  • The contract is accessible to workers at all times.
  • Every worker is notified of proposed changes in a reasonable timeframe before changes come into effect; and the changes should not reverse existing accrued benefits and reasonable expectations on which workers have relied

3.2 - Does not impose unfair contract terms (one additional point)

In some cases, especially under ‘independent contractor’ classifications, workers carry a disproportionate amount of risk for engaging in the contract. They may be liable for any damage arising in the course of their work, and they may be prevented by unfair clauses from seeking legal redress for grievances. To achieve this point, platforms must demonstrate that risks and liability of engaging in the work is shared between parties.

Regardless of how the platform classifies the contractual status of workers, the platform must satisfy BOTH of the following:

  • The contract does not include clauses which exclude liability for negligence nor unreasonably exempt the platform from liability for working conditions.
  • The contract does not include clauses which prevent workers from effectively seeking redress for grievances which arise from the working relationship.

Principle 4: Fair Management

4.1 - Provides due process for decisions affecting workers (one point)

Platform workers can experience arbitrary deactivation; being barred from accessing the platform without explanation, and losing their income. Workers may be subject to other penalties or disciplinary decisions without the ability to contact the platform to challenge or appeal them if they believe they are unfair. To achieve this point, platforms must demonstrate an avenue for workers to meaningfully appeal disciplinary actions.

Platforms must satisfy ALL of the following:

  • There is a channel for workers to communicate with a human representative of the platform. This channel is documented in the contract and available on the platform interface. Platforms should respond to workers within a reasonable timeframe.
  • There is a process for workers to meaningfully appeal low ratings, non-payment, payment issues, deactivations, and other penalties and disciplinary actions. This process is documented in the contract and available on the platform interface.[9]
  • In the case of deactivations, the appeals process must be available to workers who no longer have access to the platform.
  • Workers are not disadvantaged for voicing concerns or appealing disciplinary actions.

4.2 - Provides equity in the management process (one additional point)

The majority of platforms do not actively discriminate against particular groups of workers. However, they may inadvertently exacerbate already existing inequalities in their design and management. For example, there is a lot of gender segregation between different types of platform work. To achieve this point, platforms must show not only that they have policies against discrimination, but also that they seek to remove barriers for disadvantaged groups, and promote inclusion. 

Platforms must satisfy ALL of the following:

  • There is a policy which ensures the platform does not discriminate on grounds such as race, social origin, caste, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief, age or any other status.
  • Where persons from a disadvantaged group (such as women) are significantly under-represented among its workers, it seeks to identify and remove barriers to access by persons from that group.
  • It takes practical measures to promote equality of opportunity for workers from disadvantaged groups, including reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, disability, and religion or belief.
  • If algorithms are used to determine access to work or remuneration, these are transparent and do not result in inequitable outcomes for workers from historically or currently disadvantaged groups.
  • It has mechanisms to reduce the risk of users discriminating against workers from disadvantaged groups in accessing and carrying out work.

Principle 5: Fair Representation

5.1 - Assures freedom of association and the expression of collective worker voice (one point)

Freedom of association is a fundamental right for all workers, and enshrined in the constitution of the International Labour Organisation, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right for workers to organise, collectively express their wishes – and importantly – be listened to, is an important prerequisite for fair working conditions. However, rates of organisation amongst platform workers remain low. To achieve this point, platforms must ensure that the conditions are in place to encourage the expression of collective worker voice.

Platforms must satisfy ALL of the following:

  • There is a documented mechanism for the expression of collective worker voice.
  • There is a formal policy of willingness to recognise, or bargain with, a collective body of workers or trade union, that is clearly communicated to all workers.[10]
  • Freedom of association is not inhibited, and workers are not disadvantaged in any way for communicating their concerns, wishes and demands to the platform.[11]

5.2 - Supports democratic governance (one additional point)

While rates of organisation remain low, platform workers’ associations are emerging in many sectors and countries. We are also seeing a growing number of cooperative worker-owned platforms. To realise fair representation, workers must have a say in the conditions of their work.  This could be through a democratically-governed cooperative model, a formally recognised union, or the ability to undertake collective bargaining with the platform.

Platforms must satisfy at least ONE of the following:

  1. Workers play a meaningful role in governing it.
  2. It publicly and formally recognises an independent collective body of workers, an elected works council, or trade union.
  3. It seeks to implement meaningful mechanisms for collective representation or bargaining.

  1. PLATFORM: Here, the term ‘platform’ is used to refer to a ‘geographically-tethered digital labour platform’ (Woodcock and Graham 2020). There are two points of note here. First, a ‘digital labour platform’ is a company that uses digital resources to mediate value-creating interactions between consumers and individual service-providing workers, i.e. that digitally mediates transactions of labour. Digital platforms like Airbnb or eBay—where goods are exchanged—are not included within this definition. Second, among digital labour platforms, there are two broad types. In the first—’geographically-tethered’ or ‘location-based’ platforms—the work is required to be done in a particular location (e.g. delivering food from a restaurant to an apartment or driving a person from one part of town to another). In contrast, in the second—’cloudwork’ or ‘online work’ platforms—the work can, in theory, be performed from anywhere via the internet (e.g. data categorisation or online freelancing). In these principles, the term ‘platform’ refers only to the first category of geographically-tethered digital labour platforms.

  2. WORKER: People who find work through platforms, regardless of their employment status (e.g. employees or independent contractors).

  3. SUBCONTRACTING: Some platforms outsource parts of their operations to other enterprises. While some of these companies operate under the same name as the main company, or a slightly different version of it (e.g. Amazon and Amazon Flex), there might also be others that provide their services to the platform but also carry out their own operations (e.g. Amazon, DPD and myHermes). Where subcontracting relations are in place, the responsibility for ensuring fairness standards still rests on the main platform that outsources its operations.

  4. CONTRACTS: All written agreements between parties about the terms of the work including terms and conditions. These may be signed in-person or electronically.

Footnotes

1. Work-related costs include direct costs the worker may incur in performing the job. This may include, for instance, transport in between jobs, supplies, vehicle repair and maintenance, fuel, road tolls and vehicle insurance. However, it does not include transport to and from the job (unless in-between tasks) nor taxes, social security contributions or health insurance.
2. The ILO defines minimum wage as the “minimum amount of remuneration that an employer is required to pay wage earners for the work performed during a given period, which cannot be reduced by collective agreement or an individual contract.” Minimum wage laws protect workers from unduly low pay and help them attain a minimum standard of living. The ILO’s Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 C135 sets the conditions and requirements of establishing minimum wages and calls upon all ratifying countries to act in accordance. Minimum wage laws exist in more than 90 per cent of the ILO member states.
3. In addition to direct working hours where workers are completing tasks, workers also spend time performing unpaid activities necessary for their work, such as waiting for delivery orders at restaurants and travelling between jobs. These indirect working hours are also considered part of active hours as workers are giving this time to the platform. Thus, ‘active hours’ are defined as including both direct and indirect working hours.
4. In order to evidence this, the platform must either: (a) have a documented policy that guarantees the workers receive at least the local minimum wage after costs in their active hours; or (b) provide summary statistics of transaction and cost data. In case of (b), the platform must submit:
  • An estimate for work-related costs, which are then checked by the Fairwork team through worker interviews; and,
  • A weekly earnings table for any three-month period over the previous twelve months, in the format shown below. This is a two-way relative frequency table, which should contain information on the percentages of workers whose average weekly take-home earnings and active hours are distributed as follows:
WORKER EARNINGS AFTER COSTS (E)
[1]

e < M

[2]

M ≤ e < 1.5M

[3]

1.5M ≤ e < 2M

[4]

2M ≤ e

ACTIVE HOURS (H) h < 0.9F (part-time) % % % %
0.9F ≤ h < 1.2F (full-time) % % % %
1.2F ≤ h (full-time plus overtime) % % % %
  • Notes:
    1. h = Average active hours worked by worker per week
    2. e = Average weekly earnings of worker
    3. F = the number of hours in a local standard working week.
    4. M = the local weekly minimum wage, calculated at F hours per week. The table’s header row and column are filled out by the Fairwork team, before giving it to the platform for completion.
    5. The rows represent workers who work part-time, full-time, and more than full-time. The percentages in each row should add up to 100%.
    6. The table is to be filled with four columns of data: Column [2] with the percentages of part-time, full-time, and full-time with overtime workers who earn less than the minimum weekly wage (X), and so on until Column [5].
5. Where a living wage does not exist, Fairwork will use the Global Living Wage Coalition’s Anker Methodology to estimate one.
6. In order to evidence this, the platform must either: (a) have a documented policy that guarantees the workers receive at least the local living wage after costs in their active hours; or (b) provide summary statistics of transaction and cost data. In case of (b), the platform must submit: (1) An estimate for work-related costs, which are then checked by the Fairwork team through worker interviews; and, (2) a weekly earnings table for any three-month period over the previous twelve months, in the format shown in Footnote 4.
7. The starting point is the ILO’s Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (C155). This stipulates that employers shall be required “so far as is reasonably practicable, the workplaces, machinery, equipment and processes under their control are safe and without risk to health”, and that “where necessary, adequate protective clothing and protective equipment [should be provided] to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, risk of accidents or of adverse effects on health.”
8. The ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), Reg. 2.1, and the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (C189), Articles 7 and 15, serve as helpful guiding examples of adequate provisions in workers’ terms and conditions, as well as worker access to those terms and conditions.
9. Workers should have the option of escalating grievances that have not been satisfactorily addressed and, in the case of automated decisions, should have the option of escalating it for human mediation.
10. For example, “[the platform] will support any effort by its workers to collectively organise or form a trade union. Collective bargaining through trade unions can often bring about more favourable working conditions.”
11. See the ILO’s Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (C087), which stipulates that “workers and employers, without distinction, shall have the right to establish and join organisations of their own choosing without previous authorisation” (Article 2); “the public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict the right or impede the lawful exercise thereof” (Article 3) and that “workers’ and employers’ organisations shall not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority” (Article 4). Similarly the ILO’s Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (C098) protects the workers against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment, explaining that not joining a union or relinquishing trade union membership cannot be made a condition of employment or cause for dismissal. Out of the 185 ILO member states, currently 155 ratified C087 and 167 ratified C098.