Ajankohta: 1.6.2022, klo 13-16. Paikka: Tieteiden talo, huom. väistötilan osoite on Runeberginkatu 14-16, 00100 Helsinki, (3. krs A-siipi), sali 305. Kielet/languages: Suomi & English.
Ilmoittaudu maksuttomaan seminaariin 31.05. mennessätässä Lisää tietoa: arseniy.svynarenko (at) tuni.fi
13.00-14.15: Mitä tutkimus kertoo ruokajakelutyön riskeistä?
Mikko Perkiö: ORIFODY-tutkimuksen päätulokset
Arseniy Svynarenko: Työturvallisuuden rakenteet ruokajakelutyössä Benta Mbare: Psycho-social risks of food delivery platform work Mikko Perkiö: Opaskirja ”Food Courier, know your rights and risks at work”, esittely ja keskustelua
14.45-16.00:Paneelikeskustelu: Turvallisesti toimitettu perille! Mitä alustayhtiöt ja ruuan verkkokauppatoimijat voivat oppia toistensa työturvallisuudesta ja työhyvinvoinnista? Pj. Mikko Perkiö
Olli Koski, Senior Public Policy Manager at Wolt Erika Vakkilainen, Ruuan verkkokaupan päällikkö, Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa Ari Savisalo, Toimitusjohtaja, Kilon Osuus-Auto Elina Holmas, Lakimies, Tapaturmavakuutuskeskus
Tilaisuus on samalla ORIFODY-tutkimusprojektin loppuseminaari
Seminaari on suunnattu pääosin alustatalouden, ruuan verkkokaupan, työsuojelun, ja työturvallisuuden asiantuntijoille. Mutta myös työntekijät ovat tervetulleita.
by Arseniy Svynarenko, Mikko Perkiö, Benta Mbare, and Meri Koivusalo
Algorithmic management is increasingly important for occupational wellbeing. This is reflected in the Italian court ruled in January 2021 against Deliveroo’s rider-ranking algorithm in the case that was brought by a group of delivery workers and the Italian General Confederation of Labour. The platform’s algorithmic management system applied profiled and evaluated the “reliability” of a worker. The platform didn’t ask if workers were sick or had an emergency and the algorithm automatically downgraded those delivery workers who failed to cancel pre-scheduled shifts. This automatic algorithmic decision had a significant impact on workers’ access to work. A similar practice is in place in one of the food delivery platforms in Finland.
The court cases signal the importance of algorithmic management to the platform economy and its workers. At the end of 2021, the European Commission has proposed a draft Directive on Improving Working Conditions in Platform Work. The directive offers an important step forward regulation of platform work and algorithmic management. The Directive raises the issues of i) improving transparency of use of algorithms, ii) fairness in requirements for obligatory human monitoring of automated decisions that may significantly affect workers working conditions, and iii) accountability for automated decisions so that these can be challenged.
“You have to take this ride.Otherwise, you may be blocked.”
The Commission’s draft Directive aims at increasing transparency in the operation of labour platforms. It is rather common that on-location labour platforms in taxi and food delivery sectors do not provide drivers and delivery workers with sufficient information on how they monitor their workers and how the platform makes the decisions that directly affect their work. Who is involved in making these decisions? Adopting the new Directive on working conditions in platform work in its current version would make platforms more open to workers, civil society, and regulators.
They downgrade you as a driver. While I don’t know what the effects would be at the end of the day. … you have to take this ride. Otherwise, you may be blocked. (Food delivery worker, Tampere)
The application of algorithmic management differs between platform companies, but most require some management to ensure monitoring and follow-up of tasks. Many drivers and delivery workers interviewed in our research have expressed difficulties in understanding how the platforms work. They know that in many cases a low rating, a damaged car, or a customer’s complaint may lead to automatic deactivation. Rejecting tasks assigned automatically may lead to losing priority points (affecting working time autonomy or access to some of the platform’s features thereby limiting work methods autonomy) or temporary deactivation. Sometimes losing access to work comes without proper explanations, disclosure of significant factors that influenced the automatic decision, and without the possibility for a worker to present their own position or challenge the decision. Lack of sufficient information on how the work is managed by the platform leaves a ride-hailing driver or a food delivery worker with very little work autonomy, e.g. ability to make decisions on how and when to work.
Furthermore, some workers seem to be confused about their status and role in business. This includes treating the tech support team of the platform company as their managers. Replacing human management with algorithmic management may lead to diffusion of responsibility for workers’ protections. Treating platform workers as independent contractors further distances the platform from any responsibility for the wellbeing of the worker, including adequate insurance cover for work-related accidents.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
A few decades ago public discussions were mostly concerned with robots replacing humans on assembly lines. Now robots are used in management utilizing software and data-based automation, which has become especially visible in platform work. A broad range of issues arises from this rapidly growing sector of technology: from innovation and business transformation to people’s rights to social security and an adequate standard of living.
European Commission (EC) draft for Directive on improving the working conditions of platform work was tabled on 9th of December 2021. It builds on previous initiatives and growing recognition of the impact of AI and algorithmic management on people. The key EU regulation regarding algorithmic management is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted in 2016. The EC communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe touches upon the issues of AI impact on employment. In the White Paper on AI (2020) the Commission presented its policy outlines for the AI. In it, the EC declared the aims of achieving an ‘ecosystem of excellence’ (promoting the development of AI) and an ‘ecosystem of trust’ (ensuring compliance with EU rules and addressing the risks associated with AI). The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Acts proposed in 2020 also cover several issues specific to algorithmic management, including algorithmic decision-making and human review, transparency, and explainability.
The provisions on algorithmic management build on previous work on data protection. In 2016 the GDPR treated humans as data subjects and focuses on how the data is collected and used. Digital Market and Digital Services Acts have addressed primarily the potential of innovation in the sphere of AI and its impact on the future of European businesses and economy.
The EC draft proposal highlights the necessity of clear communication between a) companies who use algorithmic management and b) their workers who are affected by the AI irrespective of employment status. Platform workers must be made aware that AI is involved, and their representatives (unions and other public organisations) must be informed how the AI and algorithmic management are affecting workers in the workplace.
Currently, these initiatives set the framework for regulation and European-wide action. A key in this process is to what extent the focus will shift towards workers and their rights in the platform economy. The draft proposal is likely to face substantial lobbying and yet it already represents a compromise. The importance of the proposed draft directive will depend 1) on how governments will take it further, 2) on how the technical side of the AI will define the level of transparency of AI, and 3) how standardisation of data and reporting will be addressed. There will be substantial scope for not only lobbying, but utilisation and creation of loopholes and technological escape routes within the fast-developing context of AI and algorithmic management.
The Commission proposal will be subject to full scrutiny. Due to commercial importance of AI, algorithms, data, and trade secrets, there is a risk that political compromise will water down the potential of the proposal to lead to actual improvements in working conditions.
Power, responsibility, and accountability
So far most of reactions on the draft of the directive have been focused on the employment status of platform workers with less focus on algorithmic management. While algorithmic management remains part of the means for defining employment relationship, the proposed directive would apply in this respect also to contractors.
In the Article 6 of the proposed directive on improving working conditions in the platform economy, the EC requires labour platforms to provide workers (irrespective of employment status) with information about automated monitoring systems and decision-making systems which ‘significantly affect’ working conditions. The Article 7 of the proposed directive mandates human monitoring of automated systems’ impact on working conditions.
The GDPR covers a set of rights of data subjects. The draft directive mostly draws from the GDPR. Articles 6 and 7 of the proposed directive on improving working conditions in the platform economy are based on rights of data subjects presented in the GDPR (GDPR Art. 22 on automated individual decision-making, including profiling). Further focus on shaping the rules of the digital economy has been sought at European level also through the EU AI act proposed in 2021. The proposal for the AI Act was presented as part of the ”coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of AI”, but it does not mention those individuals who are affected by AI. Nonetheless, the AI act has been praised for recognizing that the AI and algorithmic decision-making are increasingly integrated into functioning of social safety nets and affect social and economic rights. However, at the same time the AI Act also represents a missed opportunity to address the plight of workers affected by the use of AI.
The proposed Directive on improving the working conditions of platform work recognises that algorithmic management and broader specificities of use of worker’s data has a significant impact on workers’ rights and wellbeing. The Directive offers a set of measures to be applied by platforms and involved parties in to safeguard the rights of platform workers. These measures recognize: 1) the complexity of algorithmic management, 2) the lack of transparency of digital labour platforms, and 3) the need for human intervention with the decisions that have a significant impact on working conditions and wellbeing of platform workers.
The proposed Directive offers scope for increasing transparency, strengthening trust, and balancing the power between the digital labour platforms and workers. The question is how much the legislative process will water down what is currently proposed while leaving out key areas or creating mechanisms to bypass requirements.
It is essential that further legal initiatives will offer rules for proper standardisation of technical reporting in the AI and will clearly define the rights of government agencies and workers’ organisations to assess the AI tools used by the various business or public entities in their management of workers. The implementation of the proposed Directive will depend also on the outcomes of the other legislative processes under multilevel governance. This will offer further scope for lobbying and amending technical documents.
It is justified that addressing occupational impacts of AI and algorithmic management begins with the platform work, where AI has the most pervasive influence. The proposal for the directive on working conditions of platform workers has potential to make a step further in regulation of working conditions for all workers in the age of AI. The question is how large or small it will be.
by Meri Koivusalo, Mikko Perkiö, Arseniy Svynarenko, and Benta Mbare
In this blog we focus on the debate concerning employment status and how the new European Commission proposals on improving working conditions in platform work relate to this on the ground of our research on platform work. We examine some key elements in the Commission proposal, and reactions from companies and trade unions suggesting challenges and way forward.
Partner, employee, or customer
As part our research of working condition in platform economy we have interviewed dozens of Uber drivers and food delivery workers. The employment status is one of one of the most crucial and at the same time complicated issues. There are very few examples of platforms adopting the employment model.
When transportation platforms claim that workers are “partners”, the level of actual control over workers create the situation when workers perceptions of own status and consequently knowledge of own rights is by far more confused. For instance, one labour platform on its webpage addresses its potential couriers with a slogan “Be your own boss”, presuming that it offers a flexible work and high level of worker’s autonomy. In interviews with platform workers the most common message we received was: “Seriously, I still consider <Platform> is my boss!”.
“Does a gig worker have the opportunity to build their own clientele or work for someone else?
– Here it is important to understand what the customer is, Mykkänen says. – Many people think that the courier’s customer is the one who ordered food, but it is not so in our case. Wolt is a customer of a courier. And a courier may have other customers like Foodora, Yango or Uber. And there’s nothing stopping you from making your own deals with a restaurant. He is completely free to build his own clientele.”
European Commission proposals on improving working conditions in platform work addresses exactly this question: when a platform worker is an employee and when not.
European dimension of platform work
European Commission has now provided for a communication, proposal for a directive and guidelines concerning collective bargaining, which will all proceed to wider scrutiny. The key issue in the process has been employment status for people working through digital labour platforms. The European Commission has set responsibilities and obligations clearly on the side of digital platforms in leaving rebuttal of the presumption of employment to them.
The relevance of the proposal will relate to the prior regulatory framework of the markets as well as other national policies. For example, unlike food delivery, the taxi sector has stronger traditions in Finland and rests on solo-entrepreneur model. Requiring any digital ride hailing platform (e.g. Uber) to become an employer for drivers may be a challenge. Drivers are free to choose if they what to work with an online platform or as a regular taxi with or without dispatcher service (unlike in the UK, Finnish drivers are not segregated in unequal categories). In our opinion, it is unlikely that employment provisions will hit hard those sectors and practices, where national history and practice has been based on entrepreneurship and sector specific regulation. Allowing the collective agreements for self-employed may strengthen driver-entrepreneurs position in relation to digital platforms. There will also be more challenges related to algorithmic management and other aspects of the proposal. It remains to be seen to what extent further discussions on employment status of platform workers may lead towards introduction of the 3rd employment category specific for platform work. However, as consequences of such measures could be far wider, we share the views of trade unions that the 3rd employment category should be avoided.
The crucial issue is how requirements for employment /non-employment are defined and on what grounds the fulfilment of two of them are set in practice in the context of national actions.
What is proposed?
On December 9th 2021, the European Commission announced not one but a package of initiatives for the regulation of platform economy. These include a Communication, a draft directive and draft guidelines for consultations. The proposed Directive on improving working conditions of platform work is based on Article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and thus set under Article 151 on social policy, which in terms of Commission powers gives substantial scope for national level. DG Competition draft Guidance on the application of EU competition law to collective agreements supports the directive through refraining from action, though it remains draft for consultation. As the European Commission has finally spoken, the case provides an important testing ground for European policies on shaping its digital economy. The policy process will either show the potential for social Europe or the power of corporate and interest group lobbying on European level action.
The definition of the contractual relationship between the digital labour platform and a worker is based on the presumption of employment on the ground of control of work. This is defined further on the ground of fulfilment of at least two out of five criteria (Article 4.2). According to the proposal the worker is thus an employee when a platform is controlling the performance of worker by: “(1) effectively determining, or setting upper limits for the level of remuneration (Authors: i.e. setting prices or ceiling for charges) ; (2) requiring the person performing platform work to respect specific binding rules with regard to appearance, conduct towards the recipient of the service or performance of the work; (3) supervising the performance of work or verifying the quality of the results of the work including by electronic means; (4) effectively restricting the freedom, including through sanctions, to organise one’s work, in particular the discretion to choose one’s working hours or periods of absence, to accept or to refuse tasks or to use subcontractors or substitutes; (5) effectively restricting the possibility to build a client base or to perform work for any third party”.
How these criteria are defined in practice will be of major interest for the platform companies. They may seek to influence the final directive and make its focus or the interpretation of the requirements narrow. Platform companies could also try to interpret their own activities in ways which would leave them outside requirements. This can be achieved, for example, by defining control and the nature of their work in ways, which could escape the requirements. The politics is thus likely to result in a definition game on what is included under requirements, how these are understood and how company practices can be described and understood.
The definition game
Criticism of employment criteria remains a key complaint for Uber and Bolt, which have criticized the presumption of employment and tight criteria for classification of platforms workers as employees. In the opinion of representatives of these two companies the employment of ride-hailing drivers will “sacrifice the flexibility and efficiency of platform work”. The same argument Uber used in its campaign against Prop.22 in California in November 2020. This argument is rather weak as zero-hour contracts would allow for flexibility, justify the control, and offer the employee protections, which would not be available as self-entrepreneur. Employment status would move costs from drivers to Uber.
The challenge for the Commission proposal is that corporations are likely to seek a compromise from the “worker” status adopted in United Kingdom, which resonates with the California case. This is reflected in the Uber commentary emphasising that: “As countries including France have demonstrated, there is a better way and any EU-wide rules should allow drivers and couriers to retain the flexibility we know they value most, while allowing platforms to introduce more protections and benefits.” This articulation would move towards a solution where platform companies are supportive to a more market-based private sector driven task-based social security and insurance policies, which may give the platform companies also potential income and benefits from cooperation . For instance, Uber has already teamed with AXA.
The situation is slightly different with food deliveries as some companies have accepted employment status and problems are also more prominent with food delivery couriers. German-based Delivery Hero, which owns Foodora and a few other food delivery platforms in Europe, criticized the strict criteria for reclassification platform workers as employees. Foodora is known for applying very tight controls over delivery workers, while calling them independent contractors.It is likely that requirement on employment provisions would hit hardest on food delivery sector and practices involved with the industry, even though directive could bring some clarification that these companies can benefit.
Some companies have also sought for European level regulatory clarification. This is reflected in views of Just Eat Takeaway.com and Wolt, which welcomed the EU Commission’s proposal. Just Eat Takeaway.com already employs delivery workers. Wolt, more recently acquired by American Door Dash, is known to impose very light control over delivery workers. The positive spin is evident in the comments by Olli Koski, who described it as “a really good proposal that will truly improve the position of the couriers”. However, this positive approach was combined with Wolt’s talk of itself as “customer” to couriers, which may be of more importance in telling us where this line of argument is going. This hints more to a wish to move its operations under platform2business regulation, through establishing a situation where couriers are customers, which use the services provided by the platform. This implies self-employment instead employment.
The language game extends also to the positioning of what employee or entrepreneur would imply through polarising these as “full-time employment” vs. “freedoms of an entrepreneur”, which is present in the reaction of platform company Bolt: “The proposal made by the Commission means that hundreds of thousands of ride-hailing drivers and delivery couriers would lose the opportunity of platform work, as platforms would be forced to shift to an exclusive full-time employment model.” The polarisation of options thus creates an image, where ”flexibility” becomes possible only for entrepreneurs.
Not all platform workers are equal. For example, unlike taxi drivers the delivery workers are much more dependent on platforms and often more confused of their own worker status and their labour rights. They are called “partners” but treated as employees, with often lower net wage than a real employee and with extensive self-responsibility on social protection. In this respect the new EU regulation would clarify their status and offer needed protections. It is highly likely that in the process of adaptation of new directive the large platform companies will continue the language games, playing with definitions for workers-partners-customers. The false narrative of flexibility and efficiency vs employment is already circulating in the reactions to the proposal.
The Commission has offered a set of criteria for defining worker within the dichotomy of employee and genuinely self-employed. This will be a challenge for the platform companies with a danger that in the process of adaptation of this new regulation the tech companies and other lobbyists may water down some of the important novelties in the Commission’s proposals. Lobbyists may bring in compromise proposals which can resemble what previously was known as third category or merely shift the language on requirements enough to escape its reach. However, it is clear that for Social Europe the proposal has been one step ahead. Even if it has not been as large step as many hoped, it is still a reminder that Social Europe exists.
In the next blog we will look into Commission’s proposals on algorithmic management in platform work.
by Mikko Perkiö, Arseniy Svynarenko, and Meri Koivusalo
This policy brief asks what kind of differences exist between different types of employment in Finland in terms of earnings-related social insurance payments. In 2020, the number of employed people in Finland was 2,528,000. This consisted of 2,189,000 employees and 340,000 self-employed persons and unpaid family workers (Statistics Finland 2021). Among employees, temporary contracts are more widespread in Finland than in OECD counties generally, but the prevalence of part-time work in Finland is equal to the OECD average (OECD 2019, 58–59). More than 100,000 persons engaged in paid work with a zero-hours contract (Pärnänen 2019). Additionally, the number of self-employed entrepreneurs grew 1.5 fold between the turn of the millennium and 2018, when it reached 183,000 (Sutela & Pärnänen 2018). Those self-employed entrepreneurs who hold YEL-insurance (see below) have access to broader social protection compared to the rest of the self-employed.
The increase in platform-mediated work partly accounts for the increase in self-employment, particularly as platform work has spread to more traditional areas of work (Mattila 2020). Pesole et al. (2018, 18) provided a mid-range estimate among the studies assessing the prevalence of platform-mediated work, which found that 3.3% of adults in Finland had earned at least one fourth of their income through platforms. The current estimates are likely to be underestimated due to the fast growth of the platform work sector and the high share of migrant workers. It is also noteworthy that a quarter of self-employed entrepreneurs were in the lowest income decile (annual income below €10,000), while only 8% of employees fell within this decile (Sutela & Pärnänen 2018, 62; Statistics Finland 2016).
Self-employed persons are insured under the Self-Employed Persons’ Pensions Act (YEL), which affects not only pensions but also other social security benefits (Finnish Centre for Pensions 2021). Entrepreneurial activities must be insured if the work input of the self-employed person (aged 18–67 and resident in Finland) is valued at more than €8,064 per year and their work as an entrepreneur continues for at least four consecutive months (Ilmarinen 2021). The available tax data shows that about 200,000 self-employed workers are not covered by the YEL insurance, as they do not meet the above criteria. Some of them are part-time or full-time employed and may have access to employment related insurance. It has been estimated that only 10,000 of non-YEL insured self-employed have no other earned income (MSAH 2019: 23, 56-57).
Earnings-related social insurance plays a significant role in Finland’s social security system (Kela 2021). In the case of employment, both the employer and the employee pay contributions to the various schemes. The government contributes varying shares of the cost depending on the scheme. Among the schemes, insurance against occupational accidents and occupational disease is solely funded by the employer, not by the employee.
The following table presents the main forms of work-related social insurance and the contribution costs for employers, employees, and self-employed entrepreneurs. The purpose of the table is to facilitate cost comparisons of social security contributions between classifications of worker status. The classification of platform-mediated work has been contested across the EU. An estimate of employer costs in Finland for a food delivery worker who is defined as an employee is about 34.4 % of salary costs added to the salary, applying 1.9% for unemployment insurance (the rate for a large company) and assuming that the person is in the highest category of risk (premium 5%, TVK 2021) for occupational accidents and occupational diseases insurance (which is likely for food delivery work) and that holiday pay is included at the lower 9% level. The social security payment for the employee (aged 17–52) is 10.6%, but the employer pays the employee holiday benefits to the value of 9% of the employee’s salary. The platform company can save this 34.4% on wages if the social insurance costs are shifted to the contractor or self-employed person. We can use this to estimate how much of the costs could be shifted. If a delivery worker would earn about €18,000 per year after their work-related expenses but before personal taxes, the savings for the platform company would be more than €6,000 per worker. Correspondingly, this shift places an extra burden on the self-employed person compared to the cost burden if he or she were an employee.
A self-employed person would pay 35% social insurance costs without holiday pay. Adding the minimal value of an annual holiday (9%), a self-employed entrepreneur would pay 44%. This can be compared with an employee’s burden of 10.6% of the costs, which, if we deduct his or her gains of 9% holiday benefits, falls to a total share of pay of 1.6% for similar income-related social security. Correspondingly, a self-employed entrepreneur would need to spend around 40% of their wage to reach the same level of social security as a salaried worker. This analysis focuses on the big picture, without examining the details of the schemes. However, it should be noted that a new entrepreneur receives a discount of 22% for his or her pension expenses for 48 months, and all entrepreneur’s pension payments are tax deductible (Uusyrityskeskus 2021). An employee’s pension payments are also tax deductible. This is more relevant for those earning higher incomes and paying higher taxes. Furthermore, in Finland, health insurance under social insurance covers a sickness allowance for lost income for a maximum number of 300 days as result of illness but does not cover the cost of health care.
This analysis shows that employment status has a significant impact on earnings-related social security payments in Finland.
Table: Earnings-related social insurance payments in Finland. Click the table to enlarge (opens in a new tab).
We thank Elina Holmas, at Finnish Workers’ Compensation Center, for comments on the draft.
Mattila, M. (2020). Platform Workers’ Rights in Finland: Good Intentions, Too Little Progress. Mutual Learning Programme, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. Peer Review on Platform Work-Finland. European Commission, Brussels. Pdf available at https://ec.europa.eu
Mikko Perkiö, Dr., senior researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arseniy Svynarenko, Dr., senior researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, email@example.com
Meri Koivusalo, Professor of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, firstname.lastname@example.org
Research project Uberisation Influencing Working Conditions: Rights, Regulation and Redistribution in Helsinki, St Petersburg and London (RRR Uber) is lead by Prof. Meri Koivusalo at the University of Tampere and it is funded by the Academy of Finland, 2019-2021. Website https://www.platformeconomy.fi/
Niin kutsutun työn kolmannen kategorian mahdollistaminen voisi kannustaa yrityksiä ulkoistamiseen ja vastuun siirtämiseen työnsuorittajille.
Alustatyön pelisäännöt vaativat uudistamista. Alustavälitteiseen työhön liittyvät oikeudet ja työnsuorittajien sosiaaliturva ovat puutteellisia. Euroopan unionissa on käynnissä useita merkittäviä alustatyötä, kilpailua, digitalisaatiota ja sosiaalisia oikeuksia koskevia esityksiä. Suomessa työneuvosto on ottanut kantaa alustatyön tekijöiden asemaan, samoin Eläketurvakeskus ja Tapaturmavakuutuskeskus.
EU-tasolla uudistusten olisi mahdollista parantaa alustatyötä tekevien ja yksinyrittäjien sosiaaliturvaa, mutta useiden uusien avausten seurauksena voi olla myös työelämän ehtojen heikentyminen. Näin voi käydä, jos alustatyöhön luodaan yrittäjän ja palkansaajan väliin niin sanottu työn tekemisen kolmas kategoria. Tämä sijoittaisi työnsuorittajan palkkatyön ja yrittäjyyden väliin. Tutkimukseemme haastattelemamme asiantuntijat niin EU:ssa kuin Suomessa suhtautuvat kolmanteen kategoriaan kriittisesti.
Sosiaaliturvan uudistamisen ohella asiaa käsitellään Euroopan komissiossa kilpailun ja sisämarkkinoiden alalla. Kolmas kategoria ei lisäisi ennustettavuutta, mutta toisi kaksi uutta rajapintaa työsuhteen harmaan alueen määrittelyyn.
Kolmannen kategorian työhön voisi liittyä erillinen kevyempi sosiaaliturva, joka siirtäisi vastuuta heikommassa asemassa oleville työnsuorittajille ja vapaaehtoisten toimien varaan.
Kolmannen kategorian työn ja ”kevyen sosiaaliturvan” yhdistelmä voisi kannustaa työnantajia ulkoistamiseen ja velvoitteiden siirtoon työnantajilta työnsuorittajille. Näin tapahtuu myös alustatyön nykyisissä kiistellyissä yhteistyökumppanuuksissa, joissa työnsuorittaja on tosiasiassa yrittäjä.
Alustatyöhön liittyy uhka kahden kerroksen työmarkkinoista. Maahanmuuttajat ja nuoret tekevät näkyvintä alustatyötä ruokalähetteinä ja kuljetuspalveluissa. Heidän työllistymistään pidetään alustatyön keskeisenä hyötynä, mutta heillä ei aina ole tietoa tai kokemusta työntekijälle kuuluvasta suojelusta. Sen sijaan, yrittäjien vakuutuksiin liittyvä vapaaehtoisuus johtaa usein alivakuuttamiseen.
Alustatyötä tekevien määrää pidetään Suomessa toistaiseksi vähäisenä. Pandemian aikana työt ja palvelut ovat kuitenkin siirtyneet yhä useammin verkkoon. Alustatalouden ja sen työelämän ehtojen määrittelyssä päätetään niistä puitteista, joissa yhä kansainvälisemmät alustayhtiöt kehittävät toimintaansa ja hakevat ratkaisuja ennen kaikkea EU-tasolta. Alustayhtiöiden mahdollisuudet osallistua ja vaikuttaa päätöksentekoon ovat merkittävästi paremmat kuin työnsuorittajilla. Vaarana on, että yhtiöt pääsevät kuin kettu kanatarhassa määrittämään alustatyön sääntelyn keskeisiä keinoja, lähtökohtia ja tavoitteita.
Alustatyössä yksinyrittäjän tai työnsuorittajan ja alustayhtiön tai työnantajan välillä on merkittävä tiedon ja vallan epäsuhta. Työnsuorittaja allekirjoittaa alustayhtiön vakiosopimuksen. Alustayhtiö hallinnoi työtä algoritmilla, jonka toimintaperiaatteen vähäinen läpinäkyvyys ja ymmärrettävyys ovat nostaneet kritiikkiä samoin kuin alustojen tiedonkeruu ja yksityisyys.
Nykyinen käytäntö luo työtä tarjoaville alustayhtiölle mahdollisuuden profiloitua välittäjinä toimiviksi alustayhtiöksi ilman työnantajavelvoitteita. Tällöin vastuu, riski ja kustannukset siirtyvät alustatalouden heikommalle osapuolelle eli työnsuorittajalle. Osa alustatalouden toimijoista on halunnut myös lisätä yhteistyötä yksityisten vakuutustuottajien kanssa tavalla, joka voi rapauttaa työeläkejärjestelmän perustaa sekä lakisääteisten vakuutusten merkitystä tilanteessa, jossa alivakuuttaminen on jo nyt yleistä.
Suomen sosiaaliturvaa uudistava komitea haluaa edistää yksilökohtaisuutta ja kannustavuutta sekä selkiyttää sosiaaliturvaa. Tulisi kuitenkin varmistaa, ettei EU:ssa vireillä olevien uudistusten kautta mahdollisteta vahvemmin riskin siirtoa työnantajilta työnsuorittajille ja avata kannustimia ulkoistamiselle. Työelämän ehtojen reiluuden on oltava tärkeä tavoite paitsi kansallisella tasolla ja osana EU:n sosiaalipolitiikkaa, myös suhteessa EU:n sisämarkkinoihin ja kilpailupolitiikkaan.
Mikko Perkiö ja Meri Koivusalo
Perkiö on yliopistotutkija ja Koivusalo on professori Tampereen yliopistossa.
The UK Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers weren’t self-employed and must be treated as workers. Uber promises to maintain flexibility of the drivers and give them some new rights and protections. In every country Uber adjust its practices to local legal context, sometimes exploding the grey areas in legislation. It takes a lot of effort for unions and time for governments to fix the regulation and clarify the obligations of platforms, status of platform workers, and their rights.
A milestone for platform economy?
On February 19, 2021, after the UK Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers weren’t self-employed and must be treated as workers by Uber. Right after this ruling Jamie Heywood, Uber’s Regional General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe commented that, Court’s decision was “focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016”. (BBC, 2021). A month later Uber announced introducing Worker Employment Benefits to all 70,000 self-employed drivers: “You will continue to have total flexibility, meaning you can choose if, when and where you work, while accessing new rights and protections.” (Uber, 2021)
These new rights and protections will include:
the minimum wage (the National Living Wage) for the working time that starts from accepting a trip on the app to the completion of the trip.
right to paid holiday (drivers will receive a payment of 12.07% of driver’s earnings)
Uber will automatically enrol drivers into a pension plan with contributions shared by Uber and a worker.
The new practises adopted by Uber in the UK only partly comply with Supreme Court’s decision. The Supreme Court ruled that Uber should recognize drivers as “workers” from the time they log on to the app, until they log off. Instead, Uber limited the working time to the period between driver accepting a ride till the completion of the ride. This means that time between the rides is not a paid working time. On the other hand, it also means that drivers have kept a freedom to choose to work in short gigs with multiple ride-haling platforms and other jobs as regular taxi drivers elsewhere. Their working time with Uber will not overlap with other jobs. Most likely, the full implementation of the Supreme Court decision in regards the working time would lead to the introduction of fixed work shifts by Uber and hereby further reduce already very limited job flexibility.
It is important to keep in mind that the UK Supreme Court ruling directly pointed out the limited rights of drivers: drivers couldn’t decide the fare, or influence the contract terms, drivers were penalized for rejecting the rides, and the platform would control them through algorithms (ratings, vehicle requirements, photo controls of driver’s identity, documents and vehicle). It is unlikely that Uber will address these issues because the algorithmic control and task allocation is in the core of its technology. And ride-hailing and food delivery platform technology is built on the assumptions that there is a massive supply of cheap and highly flexible labour force, while most of responsibilities for accompanying expenses are shifted to these workers. Labour platforms strive towards monopolisation of markets, reducing the cost of services and expanding of customer base.
As a result, the digital platforms too often treat workers as employees while continuing to refer to them as independent contractors and glamorizing individual urban entrepreneurship. In an interview to BBC4 James Farrar, who together with Yaseen Aslam and the App Drivers & Courier Union, took Uber to an employment tribunal in 2016) said: “These better terms and conditions … will attract many more people on the platform, … we could see flooding of drivers and vehicles on the streets. … A better regulation from the side of the Department of labour is needed.” (BBC 4, 2021)
Indeed, lean platforms such as Uber exploit the gaps in legislation (Srnicek, 2017, Rosenblat, 2018) that allow to minimize platform’s expenses on labour force, shift most of responsibilities to an army of “flexible” workers-partners. The UK’s Supreme Court ruling to classify Uber drivers as workers may bring some benefits to drivers but falls short of resolving probably one of central the problems in the platform work: clarity of workers occupational identity. Furthermore, the response by the Uber to the Supreme Court’s ruling probably aggravated the problem of workers identity. Uber gave drivers access to some of benefits of employment without concluding employment contracts. Uber continues the same practices of algorithmic control and workers-contractors have virtually no influence on fares, contract terms. There is no transparency on how work methods and ratings effect the access to work. The ride-hailing continues to identify drivers as “self-employed for tax purposes” while treating them as employees. Apparently, the UK’s labour law allows to do so. As for workers, their confused occupational identity may result in low job satisfaction and not knowing own rights and obligations.
Uber excluded delivery workers from the new arrangement in the UK and thereby aggravated the inequalities in platform work. The delivery workers remain less protected in the UK and in many other countries.
Occupational identities of taxi drivers and delivery workers in Finland.
Across the globe the numerous court cases and growing public debates about the status of platform workers (also their rights and protections) may indicate the scale of disruption on labour markets. Some Nordic countries could serve as examples of how the national and local regulation can bring more clarity to platform worker’s status.
The labour market and taxi industry are tightly regulated in Finland. Uber adjusted its business model to Finnish regulatory setting as it did in Norway and in many other countries. In Norway Uber operates in a higher segment of limousine car hire (Uber Black) and all drivers are classified as employees working on a limousine company’s cars (Oppegaard, 2021). In Finland Uber drivers usually register as entrepreneurs and typically work with own or leased car. A small fraction of drivers has contracts with Uber Fleet Partners and these partner companies are middlemen between workers and the platform. As licensed taxi drivers in Finland, Uber drivers can work with any platform or as traditional taxi drivers taking customers from taxi stops (although they often get a cold reception from taxi drivers who work only with traditional taxi operators). Their occupational identity is taxi entrepreneurs, the responsibilities are clear for them, and job opportunities are not limited by a ride-hailing platform. At the same time the professional associations of taxi drivers may not be eager to treat equally all taxi entrepreneurs.
The great uncertainty
Not all platform workers are in the same situation. Our research suggests that in contrast to taxi drivers, many delivery workers are uncertain about the character of relation with the platforms. A food delivery platform may have a freelancer contract with a courier, call him/her as a “partner” or “rider”, and yet control the worker if he/she was an employee. Thus, the workers are either confident that the platform is “employer” or confused about own status. In 2020 on the request by the Finnish Occupational Safety and Health authority the Labour Council examined the working conditions of delivery workers and concluded that characteristics of the employment relationship were meat, and the food couriers were employed by the courier companies. Yet in spring 2021, two main food delivery platforms that operate in Finland haven’t made substantial changes in their courier employment practices. Neither trade unions demonstrated any significant influence on how the platforms treat their workers.
In March 2021 in the neighboring Sweden the food delivery platform Foodora (operates also in Finland) has signed a collective agreement with the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union Transportarbetareförbundet. The agreement improves the work conditions of 2000 couriers who use bicycles and scooters (and does not cover those who use cars). These workers will be entailed to fixed hourly pay and yearly salary increase, overwork and weekend bonuses, compensation for clothing, bicycle maintenance, and medicines (Helsingin Sanomat, 2021). It is important to mention that in Sweden the delivery workers of Foodora have employee status. Similar processes take place in other Nordic countries. For instance, the Danish trade union 3F and the employers’ organisation Dansk Erhverv have concluded a national sectoral agreement for Just Eat’s delivery riders (ETF, 2021). Earlier in 2019 the Norwegian Fellesforbundet and Foodora concluded a collective bargaining agreement recognizing the employment relationship between couriers and the food delivery platform (ITF, 2019).
More public discussions are needed.
The expansion of labour platforms to broader spheres of the labour market means that there is a growing significance of trade union representation for platform workers. Labour platforms tend to capitalize on gaps in legislation and uncertainties of occupational identities of workers. In Finland, platform workers are often uncertain if they are entrepreneurs, employees or someone in-between (workers). Trade unions may play an important role developing adequate regulation of platform work, protecting the rights of workers, and reduction of emerging inequalities caused by the variations in the status of workers of different platforms.
The examples of ride-hailing and food delivery platforms often can demonstrate how digital platforms construct the uncertainty of occupational identities of their workers. Therefore, there is a need for continuing a broader public discussion on the status of platform workers, on their rights and protections.
Our research team is looking for drivers from London who are willing to share their experiences of working with Uber or other ride-hailing platforms. If you are private hire driver in London and use Uber or other ride-haling apps, please, contact us by email, text message, WhatsApp or Twitter message. We will be happy to have an opportunity to interview you over Zoom, Skype (or WhatsApp, or other suitable messengers). The interviews are anonymous and usually take about 45-60minutes. We offer an Amazon gift card as compensation for the driver’s time used for an interview
Asema-aukion taksijonoon kannattaisi ottaa mallia Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalta.
Taksialan uudistuksessa alalle on tullut paljon uusia toimijoita. Ohentunut sääntely ja raivoisa kilpailu asiakkaista aiheuttavat levottomuutta, samalla kun korona on vähentänyt kyytejä.
Taksilain uudistuksessa tavoitteena oli lisätä asiakkaan valinnanvapautta. Nykyisin eroja onkin niin tilaustavoissa, hinnoissa kuin tunnettuudessakin.
Moni kokee turvattomuutta ottaessaan taksia Helsingin Asema-aukion taksitolpalta. Siellä on haastavaa sovittaa kaksi periaatetta yhteen: jonotus ja asiakkaan valinnanvapaus. Jonossa eteenpäin pääsy parantaa taksinkuljettajan mahdollisuuksia saada asiakas, koska osa asiakkaissa ottaa jonossa ensimmäisen.
Mutta osa asiakkaista valitsee taksin esimerkiksi firman tunnettuuden, hinnan, auton tai kuljettajan perusteella tolppajonosta taaempaa. Myös tälle asiakkaalle ja autolle on taattava esteetön ja asianmukainen reitti kohti määränpäätä.
Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla onnistuttiin luomaan asialliset puitteet taksien valinnanvapaudelle usean jonon menetelmällä. Myös Tampereen rautatieasemalla taksin valinta sujuu.
Miten varmistaa sivistysvaltion pääkaupungin ytimeen asialliset menettelytavat kuljetuspalveluun? Moninaistunut ja jännitteinen taksiala ei näytä pystyvän itsesäätelyn keinoin varmistamaan turvallista valinnanvapautta, siksi viranomaisten olisi tarpeellista tukea tilannetta Helsingin rautatieasemalla. Selkeät käytännöt ja hyvät tavat voivat myös vähentää rasismia. Turvallinen taksinkäyttö on koko alan etu.
Kun taksialalla on yhdestä pakosta päästy, ei alalle kannata päästää syntymään uusia pakkoja ja blokkeja. Jonojen käsirysyn sijaan hinnoittelu tarjoaa mahdollisuuden reiluun kilpailuun. Kaupunkien taksinkäytöllä on kasvun varaa, kunhan arkitaksista tehdään riittävän edullinen.
taksialan tutkijoita, Tampereen yliopiston RRR-Uber-tutkimusryhmä
Mikko Perkiö, Arseniy Svynarenko, Benta Mbare and Victor Savi.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures adopted by many governments and cities resulted in slowing down urban life, closing businesses, and locking people into their homes. Social distancing works for public good and it increases the need for efficient grocery and food delivery services. These services help solving public health problems though they include critical health and social protection aspects themselves.
Increased demand for grocery delivery
Most typically, the ‘flatten the curve’ policy included various limitations on mobility of people (without interrupting transportation of goods), closure of educational premises and other public venues. Private services such as restaurants and bars can either be ordered to complete closure or their kitchens are allowed to serve food to clients at home through various delivery platforms. Many countries, regions and cities have gone into a complete lockdown or even curfews. The reports published recently by Google or Apple demonstrate COVD-19 epidemic affected urban mobility in various parts of the world.
Picture 1. Changes in urban mobility on March 29th, 2020 when compared to a median value for the corresponding day of the week, in early February in Lazio region (Italy), Greater London (UK), New York (USA), Uusimaa region (Finland) Stockholm County (Sweden). Source: Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report).
When people are advised to stay at their homes for longer period of time this eventually leads to an increase in demand for delivery services: someone has to bring groceries, ready food, medicine and other online purchases to people at their homes. In the US, Russia, and some other countries the governments have defined delivery work as part of essential critical infrastructure at the time of crisis and allowed delivery people (who can confirm that they carry on their assignments) freely move disregards the lockdowns (CISA, 2020)
SARS-COVID-19 has significantly slowed down economies and stalled life in many cities across the globe. This hits very badly millions of taxi-drivers, among them Uber and other platform drivers whose social rights and security are least protected. The platforms react to the crisis in different ways.
Pandemic hit hard both global and local economies
The SARS-COVID-19 epidemic started at the times of reported emerging trade barriers, escalating geopolitical tensions. The World Economic Forum (2019) describes how weakened international collaboration damages collective will to tackle global risks. In December 2019 the growing epidemic caused closure of many Chinese factories and created difficulties for corporations, which rely on Chinese industrial capabilities. In early 2020 the pandemic has hit the international travel, small and big businesses across the globe. And by the middle of March the grim economic projections foresee a global Corona recession.
One of the first measures to tackle the spread of the virus was restriction of people’s mobility. Governments across the world started to screen or ban travelling and travellers first from specific and then more broadly. National borders have been closed and in epidemic areas these measures moved into more severe restrictions of mobility between regions and in restricted areas. Social distancing has resulted in governments and businesses asking people to stay at home, to work remotely when possible, and avoid social contacts. Shopping malls, concert halls, and theatres are closed. Trade fairs, conferences and entertainment events have been cancelled. To enforce nation-wide quarantines some countries (for instance, Slovakia and Czech Republic) banned passenger transportation by taxi platforms allowing only grocery delivery.
The COVID-19 pandemic with a dramatic decrease in social activities and consumption has an immediate impact on most business sectors, including transportation of people. Taxi companies estimate 80-90 % decline in numbers of taxi rides within a week between 13-20 March. Finland’s Taxi Association officially “Suomen Taksiliitto” demands local and state responsibility for income compensation for taxi entrepreneurs, who suffer from the suddenly ended school transport as one major aspect of the reduced mobility. Media reported on 31 March that the government of Finland had introduced a flat sum of 2000 euros benefit scheme for those solo-entrepreneurs and freelancers, whose business is substantially weakened by the Corona crisis. There is funding for 50 000 persons. The implementation of the scheme at the municipality level is under process. Furthermore, the government of Finland will extend unemployment benefits temporarily available for the entrepreneurs, although the final details about the scheme are to be decided. Both these schemes help entrepreneur-workers, like Uber drivers, to cope with their severe business losses in this unusual situation.