Missing link in the gig economy
5 April 2019 at 4:44 pm
While the gig economy has become increasingly popular in the last five years, transparency and working conditions remain blurry, something an online hub is now fighting to change.
The gig economy is run through digital platforms to employ workers on short-term contracts.
Gig Watch, created by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), is aiming to map the gig economy by collecting and collating missing data around its size, how it operates and how working conditions compare across the economy.
Dr Sarah Kaine, UTS research director, told Pro Bono News that despite the growing popularity of gig work, the lack of data around how the economy worked was causing problems.
“Say in the personal care sector, it can be hard as a worker trying to figure out what those platforms are offering in terms of how the job works or what the wages and conditions are going to be,” Kaine said.
The aim is to provide a better understanding of the economic and social implications of the gig economy, such as the impact on existing industries and if employment and labor market policy settings need to shift to meet the needs of workers and organisations.
Kaine said Gig Watch wanted to be a “go-to” hub for workers to easily compare and analyse their options for work, to avoid being exploited or falling into a role that wasn’t right for them.
“What are the services the organisation provides? What do those services look like? What are the organisation’s employment models?” she said.
Some gig economy organisations, particularly ride share and food delivery services, have raised public concern about the transparency and accountability of their operations, which Gig Watch said it aimed to address through the data.
“The comprehensive data collected by Gig Watch will shed light on the extent to which these concerns are justified or not,” the Gig Watch website said.
Kaine said the organisation was working with representatives from ride-share groups, the care sector, government and unions to devise a “rating” system to determine what characteristics make a “decent organisation”.
“We’ll say because this organisation has these characteristics, according to what has been determined by that co-stakeholder group as decent work, that organisation would receive a higher rating,” Kaine said.
“If another organisation abided by what we would consider unacceptable standards, they would get a different, lower rating.”
She said the service wasn’t only for gig workers, and encouraged organisations that used gig workers to communicate what they wanted from gig workers, as well as how to treat workers in a fair and ethical way.
“They can ask us what we know about different employment models and the different providers,” she said.
“It would be wonderful to have input from organisations who have an interest and who are concerned that they choose workers and platforms which are doing the right thing.”