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PRESS RELEASE -
Most digital labour platforms failing to provide minimum protections for gig workers, finds new Oxford report

Published on
8 Jun 2022
Written by
Funda Ustek-Spilda, Matthew Cole, Mark Graham, Alessio Bertolini, Callum Cant, Daniel Arubayi, Nancy Salem, Pablo Aguera Reneses, Robbie Warin and Navneet Gidda
New Oxford report reveals best and worst practices in UK gig economy.
  • New players in the UK’s platform economy disrupting market with better service and fairer working conditions for platform workers compared to household names like Uber, Just Eat and Deliveroo

Only three of the UK’s most well-known digital labour platforms (Getir, Gorillas and Pedal Me) ensure their workers earn a minimum wage, according to a new report from the Fairwork project, based at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

The ‘Fairwork UK 2022 Ratings’ report evaluates 15 popular platforms across a diverse range of sectors, including food delivery, grocery delivery, ride hailing, care work, and cleaning services. Each platform in the study is assessed against five principles of fair work – fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation – and assigned a score out of ten, based on the rigorous methodology and assessment.

In the second year of the report, e-cargo company Pedal Me once again topped the ratings with the Oxford researchers scoring Pedal Me 9 points out of ten possible points. Delivery companies Getir and Gorillas, both newcomers to the UK delivery sector, scored eight out of ten and seven out of ten respectively in the Fairwork 2022 ratings.

Meanwhile household names like Deliveroo and Just Eat saw their scores fall compared to last year’s ratings, with Just Eat scoring 1 out of ten, compared to 6 out of ten in 2021, and Deliveroo scoring 4 out of ten, compared to 5 out of ten in 2021.

While ride-hailing giant Uber improved its score in the Fairwork report from 2 points to 4 points since the Supreme Court ruling last year, the Fairwork report finds there is still work to be done.

In positive news, the Fairwork researchers found that high scoring platforms such as Pedal Me, Getir and Gorillas, all use employment contracts with their riders as standard practice, providing all workers the associated statutory rights and benefits.

Furthermore, labour platforms Stuart and Deliveroo have introduced sickness insurance schemes and other measures that provide a social safety net (albeit with limited remit) for their workers. Meanwhile Amazon Flex has introduced a policy that does not hold delivery drivers liable for lost, stolen, or damaged parcels – a major problem couriers have been experiencing in the sector. There have also been victories around data protection and the use of facial recognition technology at Ola.

Dr. Matthew Cole, Country Lead of the Fairwork UK team, commented on the findings:

“The ‘Fairwork UK Ratings 2022’ report highlights positive changes as well as the ongoing challenges platform workers face. The improvements we see in this new round of ratings for the UK platform economy are the result of the organising efforts of unions and workers associations like ADCU, GMB, IWGB, and the Nanny Solidarity Network. Organised labour has been crucial to forcing companies such as Uber to recognise the reality of contractual relations between workers and the platform.

“Legal challenges brought by these unions have changed the regulatory landscape by putting pressure on both platforms and legislators to improve working conditions for platform workers. However, still 13 of the 15 companies analysed could not evidence they support collective representation. We call on all platforms to recognise and negotiate with their workers.”

Dr. Mark Graham, Director of the Fairwork project and Professor of Internet Geography at the Oxford Internet Institute, said:

“All workers, irrespective of contract type, and irrespective of the type of work that they do, deserve fair jobs. Nobody should be earning below the minimum wage or be dismissed without due process. As much as we would like to applaud high scores in the Fairwork league table, it is important to remember that even a 10/10 means that only basic minimum standards of fairness have been attained. While some companies are choosing to step up and offer decent working conditions to their workers, the range of Fairwork scores this year shows that there is still a mountain to climb before all platform workers in the UK can benefit from basic minimum standards of decent work.”

For more information, please contact Navneet Gidda, Communications Co-Lead, Fairwork at navneet.gidda@oii.ox.ac.uk

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Download the full report.

Fairwork UK Scores 2022

Platform 2022 Scores
Pedalme 9
Getir 8
Gorillas 7
Uber 4
Amazon Flex 4
Deliveroo 4
Stuart 3
Ola 1
Task Rabbit 1
Uber Eats 1
Just Eat 1
Bolt 0
Helpling 0
Yoopies 0


About Fairwork

Fairwork is a global research project coordinated by the Oxford Internet Institute and the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre. It is present in 29 countries. Globally, Fairwork collaborates closely with workers, platforms, advocates and policymakers to build a fairer future of work. The Fairwork research methodology involves interviews with workers, documental research, and meetings with platform managers.

In the United Kingdom, the Fairwork research is carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford: Dr. Matthew Cole, Dr. Funda Ustek Spilda, Dr. Alessio Bertolini, Dr. Callum Cant, Dr. Daniel Arubayi, Prof. Mark Graham, Nancy Salem, Robbie Warin, and Pablo Aguera.

The Fairwork Pledge aims to encourage organisations to support decent labour practices in the platform economy, guided by the five principles of fair work. Universities, schools, businesses, investors, and charities that make use of platform labour can make a difference by supporting platforms that offer better working conditions.

Find out more information about the pledge.

About the OII

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is a multidisciplinary research and teaching department of the University of Oxford, dedicated to the social science of the Internet. Drawing from many different disciplines, the OII works to understand how individual and collective behaviour online shapes our social, economic and political world. Since its founding in 2001, research from the OII has had a significant impact on policy debate, formulation and implementation around the globe, as well as a secondary impact on people’s wellbeing, safety and understanding. Drawing on many different disciplines, the OII takes a combined approach to tackling society’s big questions, with the aim of positively shaping the development of the digital world for the public good. https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/

Authors

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Robbie Warin

Fairwork Foundation

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