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Digital platforms’ rating system will benchmark gig economy work standards

A joint UK-South African research project has developed a rating system to measure working conditions in the digital gig economy.

Digital platforms’ rating system will benchmark gig economy work standards
iStock/ Artur

The Fairwork Foundation project's system will enable digital platforms to measure their performance against five standards – fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation.

The standards include whether a company pays the minimum wage and ensures the safety and health of its workers.

The joint project between the Universities of Manchester and Oxford in the UK and Cape Town and the Western Cape in South Africa collaborates with workers, trade unions, platforms and policy makers to develop core principles of fair work. The team then undertakes research to evaluate whether digital platforms meet those standards.

The aim is to improve the welfare and quality of platform workers. The project notes that there are more than 60 million workers world-wide who undertake work that is controlled via apps.

These digital workers have no collective bargaining powers and little ability to negotiate wages and working conditions with their employers, the project team has said.

“Digital platforms offer new employment opportunities for workers in developing countries, but those opportunities too often fall short of decent work standards,” says Professor Richard Heeks, Professor of Development Informatics at the University of Manchester.

“We hope the ratings will be widely used – customers will be able to make informed choices when ordering a taxi or a takeaway, workers can quickly distinguish between good from bad platform employers, and investors can add an ethical dimension to their business and financing decisions.”

The Fairwork Foundation project will be delivered in five stages and is due to be completed in 2021. It is funded by the UK Economic Social Research Council as part of its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) New Models of Sustainable Development programme.


Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton is acting editor of IOSH Magazine. He is a former editor of SHP and has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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