Technology and Human Rights: Gig Economy

Technology has driven the emergence of the gig economy, creating more seemingly flexible opportunities for people to earn income, such as through ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, or freelance labour matching platforms such as Taskrabbit. From these new business models have emerged unique business relationships which do not often fit traditional labour frameworks. For example, workers with tasks that resemble those of regular employees’ may be disguised as “self-employed” individuals, “freelancers” or “entrepreneurs” who do not have access to the same rights and benefits legally due to regular employees, including freedom of association and collective bargaining. While providing ease in the delivery of needed services and offering flexible economic opportunities especially to those who are unable to commit to the rigidity of regular employment (such as mothers and homemakers), the gig economy has also presented serious challenges to upholding labour rights by being linked with precarious work, enforced casualisation, uncertain hours, poor pay and involuntary overtime.

This section explores the positive and negative human rights implications associated with the gig economy, as well as the need to re-imagine and transform legal and policy rights protection frameworks in order to keep up with the times.

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