New technologies and the gig economy

New technologies are changing how we organize our societies and our lives. Often called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and broadly understood as the emergence and adoption of new and often disruptive technologies that combine elements of the digital, material and biological, this shift both poses challenges and creates opportunities for social protection.

Examples of these challenges and opportunities can be seen in changing labour markets and the increasing use of automation, where technology can contribute to creating employment relationships that do not take health and safety or social security considerations into account, threatening long-established models of social protection. New technology is increasingly being applied to broader areas of social policy, such as in the telecommunication-based provision of health care and education services, and the distribution of social benefits. These issues all have clear implications for safeguarding human rights and for promoting a human rights-based approach to sustainable development.

 

 

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier via Unsplash

Expert Commentaries

Beyond a Production- and Productivity-Centred View on Technological Progress

Technology is an important means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, SDG Targets 17.6,1 17.72 and 17.83 highlight the importance of transferring and diffusing technology and skills from developed to developing countries. The research, development, deployment and widespread distribution of technology—and environmentally sustainable technologies in […]

Resources

Gender and the Gig Economy: Critical steps for evidence-based policy

The gig economy – in which digital platforms link workers with the purchasers of their services – is growing globally. Yet there has been little research to date on its impacts in low- and middle-income countries or on gendered experiences of gig work. This lack of knowledge critically limits the ability of policy-makers to understand […]

Innovative approaches for ensuring universal social protection for the future of work

Social protection systems around the world face challenges to provide full and effective coverage for workers in all forms of employment, including those in “new” forms of employment. While some emerging work and employment arrangements may provide greater flexibility for workers and employers, they may lead to significant gaps in social protection coverage, at a […]

The architecture of digital labour platforms: Policy recommendations on platform design for worker well-being

Digital labour platforms connect workers with consumers of this work and provide the infrastructure and the governance conditions for the exchange of work and its compensation. Yet the architecture, or business model design, of digital labour platforms has important consequences for workers, affecting whether they are empowered or exploited on the platform. This paper explores […]

Inequality in Asia and the Pacific in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Inequality in Asia and the Pacific is on the rise. Many countries, including those held up as models of dynamism and prosperity, have experienced a widening of existing gaps, accompanied by environmental degradation. Market-led growth alone is not sufficient to deliver a prosperous, sustainable future for all. This report takes a novel approach by focusing […]

Innovative approaches for ensuring universal social protection for the future of work

Social protection systems around the world face challenges to provide full and effective coverage for workers in all forms of employment, including those in “new” forms of employment. While some emerging work and employment arrangements may provide greater flexibility for workers and employers, they may lead to significant gaps in social protection coverage, at a […]

Beyond Misclassification: The Digital Transformation of Work

The first part of this article provides a brief litigation update on various worker lawsuits within the gig economy. While the O’Connor v. Uber case has received the lion’s share of attention and analysis, similar lawsuits on labor standards have been filed against other on-demand platforms. Analysis of the ongoing litigation reveals several important themes, […]

Beclouded Work in Historical Perspective

The Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal is publishing a collection of papers on the “gig” economy and labor law, edited by Valerio De Stefano of the International Labor Organization. This paper places what is seen as an innovation in a larger historical context. It compares “gig” work to the putting-out system that was a feature of […]

Uber, Taskrabbit, & Co: Platforms as Employers? Rethinking the Legal Analysis of Crowdwork

One of the key assumptions underpinning the rise of ‘crowdsourced work’ – from transport apps including Uber to online platforms such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk – is the assertion put forward by most platforms that crowdworkers are self-employed, independent contractors. As a result, individuals might find themselves without recourse to worker-protective norms, from minimum wage and working time law […]

Commoditized Workers. Case Study Research on Labour Law Issues Arising from a Set of ‘On-Demand/Gig Economy’ Platforms

In the framework of the so-called “sharing economy”, the number of on-demand companies matching labour supply and demand is on the rise. These schemes may enlarge opportunities for people willing to find a job or to top up their salaries. Despite the upsides of creating new peer marketplaces, these platforms may also be used to […]

Operating an Employer Reputation System: Lessons from Turkopticon, 2008-2015

In November 2005, Amazon launched Mechanical Turk (AMT), a website where “requesters” can post tasks, called “Human Intelligence Tasks” or “HITs”, for workers to complete for pay. Workers are required to agree that they are independent contractors, not employees, and that they are therefore not entitled to minimum wage or other employment benefits. Requesters post […]

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