Gig Economy: What Rights for Workers?THE YOUNG LABOR LAW EXPERT ANTONIO ALOISI STUDIES THE GREY UNDEFINED AREA THAT SITS BETWEEN THE FIGURE OF THE EMPLOYEE AND THAT OF THE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
The rise of “just in time” services in the new digital economy is changing the nature of work and testing the existing regulatory system. Antonio Aloisi, PhD student at the Department of Law, has been dealing with this issue since late 2014, when the ‘Economist’ devoted a cover to the “workers on tap” and the International Labour Organization in Geneva launched its fourth Conference on Regulating for Decent Work.
“Online platforms allow to recruit labor force at a great rate and to discard it at the same speed. At the dawn of the on-demand economy, these platforms were portraying themselves as mere intermediaries. They have now become akin to employers. The number of workers affected is relatively small, but the so-called sharing economy is on the rise. No job is safe”. In his recent paper Il lavoro “a chiamata” e le piattaforme online della collaborative economy (On-demand work and on line platforms in the collaborative economy), Aloisi analyzes the classification of workers in the so called gig economy. They are neither employees nor independent contractors, because of the control over their work exercised by the platforms. What are they, then? “The debate is heated. Some scholars think that a third intermediate category between employee and independent contractor should be drawn up. Others argue that a third category would not erase the existing grey area of uncertainty and insecurity”.
The hyper-flexible contracts of the gig economy are lacking in obligations such as minimum wage or treatment of sickness and more often than not they are poor in terms of legal protection. The worker is atomized and deprived of the right to unionize. He signs online contracts with no power to negotiate, his quality standard is constantly checked and his work is commoditized. “There is no universal solution. Some have envisioned the return to mutuality, which has a long story in Italy. In the US, where the phenomenon is advanced, they are working on platforms founded by workers”.
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by Claudio Todesco