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Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

UWC LAW FACULTY

The gig economy and covid-19: Looking ahead

Resource title information

Funda Ustek-Spilda, Richard Heeks, Mark Graham, Alessio Bertolini, NancySalem, Srujana Katta, Sandy Fredman, Kelle Howson, Fabian Ferrari, Mounika Neerukonda, Pradyumna Taduri, Adam Badger and Pablo Aguera Reneses (September 2020). The gig economy and covid-19: Looking ahead - Fairwork Team Publication.

Further detail

Publication type
Edited and co-edited works
Description
The report examines the impact of Covid-19 on gig workers. It’s key findings reflect the following: Fair Pay: While it remains the most important for workers, we found little evidence of platforms offering compensation for loss of income. Direct policies to increase pay were mostly advertised by large multinational platforms, like Uber, but were often only available to a fraction of their workforce. When government funding became available to gig workers in some countries, platforms transferred the responsibility over to the governments. Fair conditions 1 (Prevention): More platforms offered hygiene guidance and protective equipment to workers, especially since many of these measures became compulsory by governments. ‘Contact-free services’ were also common but more often oriented towards clients than workers. Fair Conditions 2 (Illness): Just over half of the platforms surveyed were offering some form of sick pay policy. However, these often consisted of flat-rate payments that in practice fall below the local minimum wage. Access to the schemes also remains a contested issue. Where government financial relief was extended to gig workers, platforms again shifted the responsibility to the state instead of offering extra relief measures. Fair contracts: The normalisation of platforms offering (some form) of assistance to their workers during the COVID-19 crisis suggests that the meaning of ‘independent contractor’ has begun to change. Nonetheless, we still found no evidence of platforms willing to implement permanent changes in the worker’s contracts. Fair Management: Only a fraction of platforms is guaranteeing no loss of bonus or incentive levels despite temporary deactivation of workers, and a lesser number issued statements against discrimination towards certain worker groups. We also found an increased number of surveillance and screening practices on workers that risk becoming normalised. Fair Representation: There has been an increase in worker strikes taking place across the world sparked by the conditions of work in the gig economy during the pandemic. However, we found no examples of platforms actively engaging with the demands of worker’s unions and associations.

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Resource title information

Funda Ustek-Spilda, Richard Heeks, Mark Graham, Alessio Bertolini, NancySalem, Srujana Katta, Sandy Fredman, Kelle Howson, Fabian Ferrari, Mounika Neerukonda, Pradyumna Taduri, Adam Badger and Pablo Aguera Reneses (September 2020). The gig economy and covid-19: Looking ahead - Fairwork Team Publication.

Further detail

Publication type
Edited and co-edited works
Description
The report examines the impact of Covid-19 on gig workers. It’s key findings reflect the following: Fair Pay: While it remains the most important for workers, we found little evidence of platforms offering compensation for loss of income. Direct policies to increase pay were mostly advertised by large multinational platforms, like Uber, but were often only available to a fraction of their workforce. When government funding became available to gig workers in some countries, platforms transferred the responsibility over to the governments. Fair conditions 1 (Prevention): More platforms offered hygiene guidance and protective equipment to workers, especially since many of these measures became compulsory by governments. ‘Contact-free services’ were also common but more often oriented towards clients than workers. Fair Conditions 2 (Illness): Just over half of the platforms surveyed were offering some form of sick pay policy. However, these often consisted of flat-rate payments that in practice fall below the local minimum wage. Access to the schemes also remains a contested issue. Where government financial relief was extended to gig workers, platforms again shifted the responsibility to the state instead of offering extra relief measures. Fair contracts: The normalisation of platforms offering (some form) of assistance to their workers during the COVID-19 crisis suggests that the meaning of ‘independent contractor’ has begun to change. Nonetheless, we still found no evidence of platforms willing to implement permanent changes in the worker’s contracts. Fair Management: Only a fraction of platforms is guaranteeing no loss of bonus or incentive levels despite temporary deactivation of workers, and a lesser number issued statements against discrimination towards certain worker groups. We also found an increased number of surveillance and screening practices on workers that risk becoming normalised. Fair Representation: There has been an increase in worker strikes taking place across the world sparked by the conditions of work in the gig economy during the pandemic. However, we found no examples of platforms actively engaging with the demands of worker’s unions and associations.

Access publication

Download on our website
File 1 not found (getFileFromId)

Preview publication

No preview available

resources toolkit image credit 123rf.com