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Platform Economy

Working conditions and standards for fair platform work

Professor Mark Graham on the “Fairwork Project”

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Published on 19 Apr 2021

Professor Mark Graham from the University of Oxford on the “Fairwork Project”, which aims to improve working conditions on digital platforms.

At the Platform Summit held by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on 19 April 2021, Prof. Mark Graham (University of Oxford) presented the “Fairwork Project”. The purpose of the research project, which is being jointly conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute and the Berlin Social Science Center, is to investigate working conditions on online work platforms and to use the results as a basis for monitoring and benchmarking the platforms.

The main finding derived from the evaluations performed so far is that as digital platforms are mostly organised on a non-centralised basis, they expose the people working on them to structural disadvantages. In many cases, the employment relationships are precarious and workers often do not receive fair wages; as well as this, they frequently have no scope for collective organisation.

"There is really nothing inevitable about harmful, degraded and unfair jobs in the platform economy."

Professor Mark Graham

What can be done to change this situation? In addition to legislation, public opinion can also help to bring about changes. With this in mind, the team headed by Professor Graham has come up with an evaluation system showing consumers whether individual platforms adhere to minimum standards of fairness and where they have shortcomings. In this way, the general public can exert influence on the market by encouraging good platforms and placing pressure on poor ones. After being launched in India and South Africa, the project now covers 20 countries.

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