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Publication

International labour standards and platform work. An analysis of digital labour platforms based on the instruments on private employment agencies, home work and domestic work

Book - Dissertation

Policymakers across the world have been concerned about the increasing prominence of platform work arrangements. In these jobs, workers rely on a platform to obtain what are often short-term 'gigs'. Problematic is the fact that these workers tend not to enjoy much income stability, which is aggravated due to their poor access to social security protections. They also suffer from other deficits, like a lack of occupational safety and health guarantees. More recently, international organisations have started to dedicate significant funding to these matters. One such organisation is the International Labour Organization. This dissertation essentially ascertains whether the ILO's existing standards are responsive to platform work, and, if not, what can be done at the international level to assist platform workers in their quest for decent work. To this end, the research first analyses what a digital labour platform is. It inquires how these platforms are any different from other actors in the labour market. Subsequently, having explained how platforms are similar to certain other businesses, most notably labour market intermediaries, the research explores what is so different about platforms compared to labour market intermediaries. That exercise results in a thorough understanding of what digital labour platforms are. After this first part, part two of the research focuses on the ILO's contemporary mandate. The second part of the dissertation indicates how establishing decent work in the platform economy relates to the organisation's broader endeavour to improve all workers' working conditions. Recent policy documents clearly indicate that the ILO's goal to achieve Decent Work for All entails that also platform workers are entitled to social protection. Following the ILO Centenary Declaration, the organisation is on track to explore how it can bolster platform workers' protections. In the third part of the dissertation, the Private Employment Agencies Convention, Home Work Convention and Domestic Workers Convention are selected as the existing ILO instruments most relevant to the regulation of platform work. The rules governing the interpretation of ILO Conventions are discussed, after which it is shown how each of these three standards already covers a significant share of platform workers. Attention is drawn to the importance of these standards for any future discussion on platform work at the international level. The fourth and final part of the dissertation, then, highlights how these standards not just apply but, furthermore, contain very relevant protections. For the reasons explained in these final chapters, the existing standards can, however, not be considered responsive to platform work. Consequently, since existing standards are unresponsive, the final chapter outlines what role the ILO can play in regulating platform work, in view of the information uncovered in this research.
Publication year:2021
Accessibility:Open