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Private employment services make recommendations for decent platform work

Online platforms have the vast potential to connect more people with decent work. Still, to deliver on this potential, reform of safety nets is needed and legitimate concerns on working conditions and level-playing field need to be addressed. Building on its track record of providing decent diverse forms of work, the private employment services agency proposes policy recommendations to create a decent level playing field for platform work.

Published on 4th November 2020

New platform technologies allow to work in all kinds of new and innovative ways. It has allowed for all kinds of jobs and services to be delivered more quickly, efficiently, and user-friendly. Through this it has generated new sources of incomes and opportunities to engage with the world of work. At the same time the rise of ‘platform work’ raises challenges and pertinent questions on the adequacy of regulatory environments and safety nets to accommodate these changes for the benefit of all.

“Working via an online platform is a new way of organising work rather than a new form of work,” says Jochem de Boer, Global Public Affairs Manager at the World Employment Confederation. “It can be done through a variety of contractual work arrangements, either in an employment relationship -fixed term, part-time and of course, agency work – or within the framework of self-employment. Online platforms are just another way of connecting people with work. But platform work is work, and as such, it comes with the same expectations of decent working conditions for workers and of level-playing field for businesses. This is why social innovation and an appropriate regulatory framework are crucial!”

In the vast variety of platform work and platform work providers, online talent platforms (those platforms dedicated to deliver HR services)  help connect more people with work and therefore contribute to making labour markets more dynamic, diverse, and inclusive. To support the delivery of quality online talent platform services, the World Employment Confederation put forward recommendations for policymakers to shape the appropriate framework that leverages platform work to the benefit of all.

An essential prerequisite is that future regulatory frameworks must allow for diverse forms of work, including by providing a balanced protection floor across them. No single work contract can accommodate the diversity of people, ways of working, and the diversity of business models of the 21st century – not least those emerging thanks to digital opportunities. In addition, unequal treatment for basic social protections can result in incentivizing certain forms of work over others.

The private employment services sector has identified a couple of important elements to take into account in order to create a decent level playing field for platform work:

  • Consider platform work in its complexity. B2B services is not the same as peer-to-peer volunteer work; even if both are provided through an online platform. A one-size-fits-all regulation will not capture this diverse landscape.
  • Same service = same regulation. Similar services must be governed by the same regulation, conditions, and standards. In the private employment services sector, it means for instance that in the same way that agencies are not allowed to charge fees and costs to jobseekers and/or workers, it should be forbidden from online platforms too.
  • Define simple and clear worker classification… and enforce it! Digital tools and technology should not be confused with a contractual relation or the provision of a service. Effective and proportional enforcement is the key to creating the level playing field needed.

Private employment services have a track record of dedication to quality work, social dialogue and providing adaptation and security to people – whether online or offline. In any case, WEC members are upholding to WEC’s Code of Conduct and its key principles for HR services such as the ban to charge recruitment fees to workers and the compliant and confidential use of personal data.

For more details, read our position paper.

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