UK: Fairwork analysis of working conditions for 12 digital platforms finds none meet five basic standards of fair work; incl. co. responses
In May 2023, Fairwork released its third UK report analysing the working conditions in 12 digital labour platforms across the ride hail, delivery, and domestic work sectors. It found that no platforms reached all five basic indicators of fair work: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation.
The report alleges the use of algorithms to determine payment and managerial decisions by some of the platforms creates conditions of stress and precarity. Interviewees alleged dismissals were made without human intervention and without the ability to appeal. The report suggests the effects of this opacity is catalysed by the lack of a pay floor, which places the risk of market fluctuations on the shoulders of the individual worker. The report also alleges occupational health and safety risks and found most platforms analysed do not provide sufficient insurance packages or safety nets for workers when accidents occur.
The report also highlights allegations of discrimination. Some women felt the algorithm monitoring their performance was insensitive to their experiences, such as their rejection of jobs in areas where they feel unsafe. Reports of disadvantages to inherently discriminated groups were also flagged by workers for platforms that required customers to review the service.
The report recommends workers should be given meaningful tools that enables them to comprehend how algorithmic decisions are made. It also suggests platforms should grant organised labour agency in the development process of their technical systems.
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre asked the 12 companies in the report to respond to Fair Work's finding that no company met five basic standards of fair work. Amazon, Deliveroo and Free Now responded; Bolt, Getir, Gorillas, Stuart, Uber, Task Rabbit, Pedal Me and Just Eat did not provide a response.
In June, Fairwork issued a rejoinder to Deliveroo's response; it can be read in full below.