Fairwork Scoring System

Fairwork Scoring System2020-05-21T14:27:48+01:00

The five Principles of Fairwork were developed through an extensive literature review of published research on job quality, stakeholder meetings at UNCTAD and the ILO in Geneva (involving platform operators, policymakers, trade unions, and academics), and in-country stakeholder meetings held in India (Bangalore and Ahmedabad), South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg) and Germany (Berlin). This document explains the Fairwork Scoring System.

Each Fairwork Principle is divided into two thresholds. Accordingly, for each Principle, the scoring system allows one ‘basic point’ to be awarded corresponding to the first threshold, and an additional ‘advanced point’ to be awarded corresponding to the second threshold (see Table 1). The advanced point under each Principle can only be awarded if the basic point for that Principle has been awarded. The thresholds specify the evidence required for a platform to receive a given point. Where no verifiable evidence is available that meets a given threshold, the platform is not awarded that point.

Fairwork Scoring System

A platform can therefore receive a maximum Fairwork Score of ten points. Fairwork scores are updated on a yearly basis. For example, Fairwork’s South Africa 2020 scores which were published in March 2020 were based on data pertaining to the 12 months between March 2019 and March 2020, and are valid until March 2021.

Principle 1: Fair Pay

1.1 – Pays at least the local minimum wage (one point)

Irrespective of the employment status of the worker, workers earn at least a local minimum wage, or there is a policy which requires payment above this level

The threshold for 1.1 is based on the level for a local minimum wage.[1] Workers on the platform must earn more than the minimum wage rate in their active hours,[2] and this can be evidenced by either:

  • A policy that guarantees the workers receive at least the local minimum wage in their active hours; or
  • The provision of summary statistics of transaction data.

In the case of (b), the platform is asked to submit a weekly earnings table (see Table 2) that averages worker earnings and worker hours for any three month period over the previous twelve months.

Table 2. Weekly Earnings Table.

Weekly earnings <X X to (X+(X/2)) (X+(X/2)+1) [3] to 2X >2X
Active hours less than 40 hours/week (part-time) % % % %
Active hours between 40 and 48 hours/week (full-time) % % % %
Active hours more than 48 hours/week (full-time plus overtime) % % % %

Note: X = the local minimum wage, calculated at 45 hours per week. This header row is filled out by the Fairwork team, before submitting it to the platform for completion.[4]

1.2 – Pays the minimum wage plus costs (one additional point)

Workers earn at least the local minimum wage after work-related costs, or there is a policy which requires payment above this level

The threshold for the minimum wage plus costs varies between different kinds of platform work. In order to establish a threshold, the platform is asked to provide an estimate for work-related costs, which are then checked (by the Fairwork team) through worker interviews.[5] To be awarded this point, there must be either:

  • A policy that guarantees workers earn at least the local minimum wage plus costs; or
  • Evidence from the platform that workers earn at least the local minimum wage plus costs.

If the platform has completed Table 2, the mean weekly earnings minus the estimated work-related costs must be above the local minimum wage (see Table 2).

Principle 2: Fair Conditions

2.1 Mitigates task-specific risks (one point)

There are policies to protect workers from risks that arise from the processes of work

This threshold requires the platform to ensure that there are safe working conditions, and that potential harms are minimised.[6] For 2.1, this means identifying the task-specific risks that are involved for the worker, for example, if a vehicle is used, or there is interaction with customers. The specific practices leading to the awarding of this point may vary by the type of work and the risks involved.

To be awarded a point for 2.1, the platform must be able to demonstrate that:

  • There are policies or practices in place that protect workers’ health and safety from task-specific risks

2.2 Actively improves working conditions (one additional point)

There are proactive measures to protect and promote the health and safety of workers or improve working conditions

For 2.2, the threshold is higher, involving practices that go beyond addressing the task-specific risks addressed by 2.1. This means a policy that goes beyond ameliorating the direct task-specific risks, by promoting greater health and safety or improvements in working conditions, beyond what is specified by local regulations for employment. For example, an insurance policy that covers workplace accidents would meet the threshold for 2.1, while one that also covers the worker or their family outside of work would meet 2.2.  As policies and practices may be focused on the specific form of work, the examples that meet the threshold may vary by the type of work.

To be awarded a point for 2.2, the platform must be able to demonstrate:

  • There is a documented policy (or policies) that promotes the health and safety of workers or improves working conditions, going beyond addressing task-specific risks

Principle 3: Fair Contracts

3.1 – Clear terms and conditions are available (one point)

The terms and conditions are transparent, concise, and provided to workers in an accessible form

The threshold for 3.1 involves demonstrating that the terms and conditions of the contract issued to workers are available in an accessible form.[7] Platforms must demonstrate that the contracts are accessible for workers at all times, whether through the app itself or direct communication with the worker. This is necessary for workers to understand the requirements of their work. The contracts should be easily understandable by workers, and available in the language/languages commonly spoken by the workers on the platform.

To be awarded a point for 3.1, the platform must be able to demonstrate all of the following:

  • The contract is written in clear and comprehensible language that the worker could be expected to understand; and,
  • The contract is issued in the language/languages spoken by workers on the platform; and,
  • The contract is available for workers to access at all times.

3.2 – The contract genuinely reflects the nature of the employment relationship (one additional point)

The party contracting with the worker must be subject to local law and must be identified in the contract. If workers are genuinely self-employed, the terms of service are free of clauses which unreasonably exclude liability on the part of the platform

The threshold for 3.2 involves the platforms demonstrating that the contract issued to workers accurately describes the relationship between the platform, the workers, and the users. In the case where there is an unresolved dispute over the nature of the employment relationship exists, a point will not be awarded.

If workers are genuinely self-employed,[8] platforms must be able to demonstrate that the contract is free of clauses that unreasonably exclude liability on the part of the platform for harm caused to the workers in the course of carrying out their duties.

To be awarded a point for 3.2, the platform must be able to demonstrate that:

  • The employment status of the workers is accurately defined in the contract issued by the platform; and,
  • There is no unresolved dispute about the nature of the employment relationship; or,
  • The self-employed status of the worker is adequately demonstrated and free from unreasonable clauses

Principle 4: Fair Management

4.1 – There is due process for decisions affecting workers (one point).

There is a documented process through which workers can be heard, can appeal decisions affecting them, and be informed of the reasons behind those decisions. There is a clear channel of communication to workers involving the ability to appeal management decisions or deactivation

The threshold for 4.1 involves a platform demonstrating the existence of clearly defined processes for communication between workers and the platform. This includes access by workers to a platform representative, and the ability to discuss decisions made about the worker. Platforms must be able to evidence that information about the processes is also easily accessible to workers.

To be awarded a point for 4.1, the platform must be able to demonstrate all of the following:

  • The contract includes a documented channel for workers to communicate with a designated representative of the platform; and,
  • The contract includes a documented process for workers to appeal disciplinary decisions or deactivations; and,
  • The platform interface features a channel for workers to communicate with the platform; and,
  • The platform interface features a process for workers to appeal disciplinary decisions or deactivations; and,
  • In the case of deactivations, the appeals process must be available to workers who no longer have access to the platform.

4.2 – There is equity in the management process (one additional point)

There is evidence that the platform is actively seeking to prevent discrimination against workers from disadvantaged groups.

To be awarded a point for 4.2 the platform should demonstrate the following:

  • It has a policy which guarantees that the platform will not discriminate against persons on the grounds of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion or belief, age or any other status which is protected against discrimination in local law; and,
  • Where persons from a disadvantaged group (such as women) are significantly under-represented among its workers, it has a plan to identify and remove barriers to access by persons from that group, resulting in improved representation; and
  • It takes practical measures to promote equality of opportunity for workers from disadvantaged groups, including reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, disability, and religion or belief; and
  • 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; and  
  • It has mechanisms to reduce the risk of users discriminating against any group of workers in accessing and carrying out work.

Principle 5: Fair Representation

5.1 – There are worker voice mechanisms and freedom of association (one point)

There is a documented process through which worker voice can be expressed. There is no evidence of freedom of association being prevented by the platform. There is no evidence that platforms refuse to communicate with designated representatives of workers

The first step for the justification of 5.1 is establishing the platform’s attitude towards and engagement with workers’ voice. This includes both listening to and responding to worker voice when raised with the platform, as well as clearly documenting for workers the process for engaging the platform in dialogue. Workers should be able to freely organise and associate with one another, regardless of employment status. Workers must not suffer discrimination for doing so. This includes the freedom to associate beyond the remit of organisational spaces (for example, via instant messaging applications).[9]

To be awarded a point for 5.1, a platform must be able to demonstrate that:

  • There is a documented process for the expression of worker voice.

5.2 – There is a collective body of workers that is recognised, and that can undertake collective representation and bargaining (one additional point)

There is a collective body of workers that is publicly recognised and the platform is prepared to cooperate with collective representation and bargaining (or publicly commits to recognise a collective body where none yet exists)

This threshold requires the platform to engage with, or be prepared to engage with, collective bodies of workers that could take part in collective representation or bargaining. The collective body must be independent of the platform, and the majority of its members must be workers of the platform. It may be an official trade union, or alternatively a network or association of workers. Where such organisations do not exist, the platform can sign a public statement to indicate that they support the formation of a collective body.

To be awarded a point for 5.2, the platform must:

  • Publicly recognise an independent, collective body of workers or trade union and not have refused to participate in collective representation or bargaining; If such a body does not exist, it must:
  • Sign a public statement of its willingness to recognise a collective body of workers or trade union.

[1] 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.

[2] According to the ILO’s (2018) report on “Digital Labour Platforms and the Future of Work”,  for every hour of paid work, workers spend 20 minutes on unpaid activities, including, for example, searching for tasks and researching clients. In order to account for this additional time spent on searching for work, as well as time spent between work tasks, we define ‘working time’ as including both direct (completing a task) and indirect (travelling to or waiting between tasks) working hours.

[3] The “+1” is one unit of the lowest denomination of the currency, to ensure a boundary between the two figures

[4] The table contains four columns of data. The first is the percentage of workers earning less than the minimum wage (X). The rows represent less than full time, full time, and full time with overtime.

[5] Taxes are not considered to be a work-related cost.

[6] 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.”

[7] 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.

[8] ILO’s Employment Relationship Recommendation, 2006 (R198) recommends that member countries develop legal and regulatory frameworks containing specific indicators that speak to the existence of an employment relationship, which might include:

(a) the fact that the work is carried out according to the instructions and under the control of another party; involves the integration of the worker in the organization of the enterprise; is performed solely or mainly for the benefit of another person; must be carried out personally by the worker; is carried out within specific working hours or at a workplace specified or agreed by the party requesting the work; is of a particular duration and has a certain continuity; requires the worker’s availability; or involves the provision of tools, materials and machinery by the party requesting the work’;

(b) periodic payment of remuneration to the worker; the fact that such remuneration constitutes the worker’s sole or principal source of income; provision of payment in kind, such as food, lodging or transport; recognition of entitlements such as weekly rest and annual holidays; payment by the party requesting the work for travel undertaken by the worker in order to carry out the work; or absence of financial risk for the worker’.

[9] 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.