Fairwork is a research project that is working to set and measure decent work standards in the platform economy.
Fairwork has brought together platforms, workers, trade unions, regulators, and academics in meetings held at the International Labour Organisation in order to set global principles for fair work in the platform economy. Those principles were then revised through tripartite workshops in South Africa, India and Germany. Five core principles emerged out of those workshops:
1. Fair Pay
Workers, irrespective of their employment classification, should earn a decent income in their home jurisdiction after taking account of work-related costs and active hours worked. They should be paid on time, and for all work completed.
2. Fair Conditions
Platforms should have policies in place to protect workers from foundational risks arising from the processes of work, and should take proactive measures to protect and promote the health and safety of workers.
3. Fair Contracts
Terms and conditions should be transparent, concise, and always accessible to workers. The party contracting with the worker must be subject to local law and must be identified in the contract. Workers are notified of proposed changes in a reasonable timeframe before changes come into effect. The contract is free of clauses which unreasonably exclude liability on the part of the platform, and which prevent workers from seeking redress for grievances. Contracts should be consistent with the terms of workers’ engagement on the platform.
4. Fair Management
There should be a documented due process for decisions affecting workers. Workers must have the ability to appeal decisions affecting them, such as disciplinary actions and deactivation, and be informed of the reasons behind those decisions. The use of algorithms is transparent and results in equitable outcomes for workers. There should be an identifiable and documented policy that ensures equity in the way workers are managed on a platform (for example, in the hiring, disciplining, or firing of workers).
5. Fair Representation
Platforms should provide a documented process through which worker voice can be expressed. Irrespective of their employment classification, workers have the right to organise in collective bodies, and platforms should be prepared to cooperate and negotiate with them.
These five principles are applicable to all types of work, regardless of whether workers are classified as employees or independent contractors, and regardless of where and how they work.
However, platform work falls into two broad categories, and the way our principles apply to these categories differs. The first category (geographically tethered platform work, or ‘gig work’) is work that needs to be performed in-person, requiring physical proximity between worker and customer. This includes ride-hailing, care work, cleaning, delivery work and beauty services. The second (cloudwork) is work that can be performed online from anywhere in the world. This includes translation, design work, filling in surveys, and training AI systems.
Because working conditions and risks to workers differ substantially across the two different types of platform work, we have developed two sets of Fairwork standards, both underpinned by our five principles of fairness: the Fairwork principles for gig work, and the Fairwork principles for online work.
Fairwork is implementing our two rating schemes (for gig work and online work platforms) with selected platforms across our project countries. We do this by collecting evidence that would help us assess whether these platforms are acting in accordance with the five Fairwork principles. See further details on our research methodology.
For more information the project and the principles, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.