The gig economy and labour regulation: an international and comparative approach

Autor:Valerio De Stefano
Páginas:35-40
RESUMO

BOF-ZAP Research Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Leuven; Master degree in Law, at Bocconi University in Milan; Ph.D. at Bocconi University in Milan; Postdoctoral researcher at Bocconi University in Milan; Post-doctoral member at Clare Hall College at the University of Cambridge (2013); Visiting academic at the University College of London (2012); Technical Officer on Non-Stand... (ver resumo completo)

 
TRECHO GRÁTIS
the gig economy And lAbour regulAtion: An
internAtionAl And compArAtive ApproAch
1
A economiA gig e A regulAção do trAbAlho: umA
AbordAgem internAcionAl e compArAtivA
vAlerio de StefAno
BOF-ZAP Research Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Leuven; Master degree in Law, at Bocconi University in
Milan; Ph.D. at Bocconi University in Milan; Postdoctoral researcher at Bocconi University in Milan; Post-doctoral member
at Clare Hall College at the University of Cambridge (2013); Visiting academic at the University College of London (2012);
Technical Officer on Non-Standard Forms of Employment of the International Labour Office (ILO) (2014-2017). The opinions
expressed in this article are the Author’s only and do not necessarily reflect the position of the International Labour Office.
This paper deals with the main labour implications of the
so-called “gig-economy”. The gig-economy is usually under-
stood to include chiefly two forms of work: “crowdwork” and
“work on-demand via apps” (De Stefano, 2016a; Smith and
Leberstein, 2015, Sundarajan, 2016).1
Crowdwork is work that is executed through online plat-
forms that put in contact an indefinite number of organi-
sations, businesses and individuals through the internet,
potentially allowing connecting clients and workers on a
global basis. The nature of the tasks performed on crowd-
work platforms may vary considerably. Very often it involves
“microtasks”: extremely parcelled activities which still re-
quire some sort of judgement beyond the understanding of
artificial intelligence (e.g. tagging photos, valuing emotions
or the appropriateness of a site or text, completing surveys)
(Howe, 2006; Irani, 2015a). In other cases, bigger works can
be crowd-sourced such as the creation of a logo, the develop-
ment of a site or the initial project of a marketing campaign
(Kittur et al, 2013; Leimeister and Durward, 2015; Kuek et
al., 2015). In “work on-demand via apps”, jobs related to
traditional working activities such as transport, cleaning and
running errands, but also forms of clerical work, are offered
and assigned through mobile apps. The businesses running
these apps normally intervene in setting minimum quality
standards of service and in the selection and management of
the workforce. These forms of work are growing in numbers
and importance. In 2016, a study of the University of Hert-
fordshire and UNI Global estimated that almost 5 million
UK workers and 8 million German workers have worked for
companies in the gig-economy (Huws and Joice, 2016a; Hu-
ws and Joice, 2016b). The growth of these forms of work is
also clearly recognisable in the United States (Hathaway and
Muro, 2016; Smith and Leberstein, 2015).
These forms of work, of course, present some major dif-
ferences among each other, the more obvious being that the
1 Artigo recebido em 20/04/2018.
Artigo aprovado em 09.10.2018 e 25.10.2018.
first is chiefly executed online and principally allows plat-
form, clients and workers to operate anywhere in the world,
whilst the latter only matches online supply and demand of
activities that are later executed locally. Nonetheless, various
arguments also exist to treat them jointly.
Despite the many dissimilarities that exist between the
two, in fact, these forms of work share several features that
make a common analysis opportune. First and foremost, they
are both enabled by IT and make use of the internet to match
demand and supply of work and services at an extremely high
speed. This, in general, allows minimising transaction costs
and reducing frictions on markets. As such, these work prac-
tices show the potential of resettling the boundaries of enter-
prises and challenging the current paradigm of the firm and
of granting a level of flexibility unheard in the past for the
businesses involved (Cherry, 2016; Finkin, 2016). Workers
are provided “just-in-time” and compensated on a “pay-as-
you-go” basis; in practice they are only paid during the mo-
ments the actually work for a client, paving the way to a sheer
commodification of labour (De Stefano, 2016d).
A fundamental risk, indeed, is that these activities are not
even recognised as work. Indeed, they are often designated as
“gigs”, “tasks”, “favours”, “services”, “rides” etc. The terms
“work” or “workers” are very scarcely used in this context,
and the very same catchphrase “gig-economy” epitomizes
this, as the term is often used to indicate a sort of parallel di-
mension in which labour protection and employment regula-
tion are assumed not to apply by default. To give an example,
when the bikers of Foodora, a food delivery service, went on
strike in Italy, the managers of the company stated that work-
ing for Foodora is only a means of earning some pin money
“for those who like to ride the bike” rather than a real job
(Coccorese, 2016). Another convenient rhetoric is to present
these workers as a sort of individual small business or mi-
cro-entrepreneurs, falling by definition beyond the scope of

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