The opportunities created by such platforms are, however, blurring the previously clear distinction between employees and the self-employed, said ILO.

Working conditions are largely regulated by the platforms’ terms of service agreements laid out by businesses themselves, and algorithms are increasingly replacing humans in allocating and evaluating work, and human resources.

"The new challenges they present can be met through global social dialogue so that the workers, employers and governments can fully and equally benefit from these advances. All workers, regardless of employment status, need to be able to exercise their fundamental rights at work," Ryder said.

Furthermore, with platforms operating across multiple jurisdictions, coherent and coordinated policies are needed to ensure they provide decent work opportunities and foster the growth of sustainable businesses, ILO urged.

Difficulties for workers and businesses

In its new report, World Employment and Social Outlook 2021, ILO outlined the challenges for digital platform workers, including over working conditions, hours and income, and the lack of access to social protection, freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed many of these issues.

ILO noted that working hours can often be long and unpredictable, wages low, and, on some platforms, a significant gender pay gap exists. Businesses also face challenges such as those relating to unfair competition, non-transparency with regard to data and pricing, and high commission fees, it added.

Furthermore, work on online web-based platforms is outsourced by businesses in the global North, and performed by workers in the global South, who earn less than their counterparts in developed countries, which could exacerbate inequalities and perpetuate the divide, ILO said.

Overcoming challenges

Against this backdrop, ILO urged broad dialogue and regulatory cooperation between digital labour platforms, workers and governments, which could lead over time to a more effective and consistent approach.

Such efforts would also ensure that work status is correctly classified, in line with national classification systems; there is greater transparency and accountability of algorithms for workers and businesses; and workers can access the courts of the jurisdiction in which they are located if they choose to do so.

Read more from Global
Post Comment