At a glance
The gig economy refers to a labour market comprised of short-term jobs, so called ‘gigs’. These ‘gigs’ are usually completed by workers contracted on a non-permanent basis and are mediated via digital labour platforms. The gigs can be accessed and completed solely online as cloudwork (e.g.programming or content creation) or initially accessed online, to then be carried out in an analogue and physical manner as location-based work (e.g. delivery services).
Over 40 million people in low- and middle-income countries earn part or their entire income in the gig economy, and this figure is rising. Digital platforms stimulate employment and income generation through the increased availability and access to digitally mediated jobs. In this context, platforms are the intermediaries that connect supply and demand and also set the framework and rules for exchange and behaviour of workers and clients.
Alongside the growth and potential are the challenges arising from the new modus of work. Workers may face poor pay, intransparent algorithmic management decisions and dismissals, long working hours and more. There is a lack of suitable conditions, knowledge, and instruments to promote fair work in the gig economy nationally and internationally. This is where the Gig Economy Initiative comes into play. The initiative promotes fairer and higher labour standards in the gig economy at the level of workers, platforms, and policymakers. With its holistic approach it seeks to strike a balance between enabling new and equitable employment opportunities and minimising existing challenges.
Brazil’s gig workers
Jessica, Marcelo and Juliana are three of more than 600,000 Brazilian workers who take orders daily through digital labour platforms. Mostly without fair pay, labour protection or the right to organise collectively with other workers – effectively excluded from the protection of Brazilian labour law. We have accompanied them in their everyday life.open photo reportage
The aim of the Gig Economy Initiative is to create the necessary conditions for fair work in the gig economy at the level of 1) workers, 2) platforms and 3) other key stakeholders from politics, business and civil society. The initiative offers training and guidance for workers, supports the scale-up of an evaluation mechanism for the fairness of platforms and advises platforms on how to improve their working conditions. The initiative also raises awareness among policy stakeholders for the potentials and risks of the gig economy and existing regulatory gaps.
The Gig Economy Initiative develops tools and training for gig workers (online and site-based), for which you can pre-register here, to help them enter the gig economy, better navigate it, or find other employment. Learning opportunities raise gig workers’ awareness of skills in demand and their own rights. The development of these tools and trainings follows the principles of human-centered learning and is grounded in evidence-based outcomes about gig workers’ needs, challenges, and skill gaps.
The online gig worker courses provide workers with a basic orientation to platform work, decent work, and fair working conditions. In addition, the courses provide information on gender and resilience, as well as important financial, social, and digital skills in the gig economy. In addition, the initiative is currently developing specific modules for workers* in areas of domestic and care work, cloud work, micro-tasking, and driving and delivery services.
To ensure that gig workers are able to adapt to a dynamic labor market by quickly upgrading and updating their skills, the initiative is also exploring the potential value of micro-skills. The initiative is developing a skills compass to identify training needs on platforms and a tool to help workers* compare their income to subsistence levels. To promote gender equality, a mentorship program for 150 female gig workers is being piloted in Kenya. To achieve greater reach and impact, capacity workshops for intermediary organizations working with workers, such as unions, labor agencies, and institutes, are also being developed and implemented.
At the micro level, learning, information, counseling, and digital tools will be piloted and made available to workers to improve both knowledge of their rights and their mid- and long-term job and career opportunities. The initiative has also released an informational tool that offers insights into the value of so-called microcredentials for career development and advancement. The training courses can lead to better working conditions and a higher income for gig workers.