Gig work and crowdwork

New initiatives to regulate a new field of employment in a comparative perspective

Thomas Haipeter, Institute for Work, Skills and Training, University of Duisburg-Essen
Feliciano Iudicone, Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini

The development of gig work in the sense of physical services and crowdwork in the sense of digital – or ‘logged’ – labour, both organized and intermediated by platforms, seems to be one of the most disruptive effects of digitalisiation on the forms and structures of the employment relationship in developed capitalist economies. There are at least three reasons to be given in this respect. First, platform work is going along with a transformation of employment by changing the employment status into a status of self- or bogus self-employment. Second, it is contributing to a decomposition of cooperative relationships between workers in plants or factories and in this way to the decomposition of the plant as a legal entity, which in many countries is relevant for participation rights of employees and interest representatives. Third, finally, platform work is a factor of dismantling of national or industry based labour standards as platform workers usually are not covered by regulations of wages or working times or other working conditions.

In our presentation, we will try to describe the development of gig work and crowdwork and its effects on employment and the employment relationship by comparing the four country cases of France, Germany, Italy and Poland. The presentation will focus on the question if in these countries any initiatives have been developed to regulate gig and platform work or at least to support, mobilise or organise platform workers, either by the state or by unions or other forms of interest representation. The analysis is based on the findings of a comparative EU-project.