World employment/social outlook: ILO calls for dialogue and response to digital economy

THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has stressed the need for international policy dialogue and response to digital economy; saying that the rapid growth of digital economy calls for coherent policy response.

It said the growth of digital labour platforms is presenting opportunities and challenges for workers and businesses and therefore, there is the need for international policy dialogue.

“Digital labour platforms have increased five-fold worldwide in the last decade,” the ILO said in its latest World Employment and Social Outlook 2021 report.

According to the report, this growth has underlined the need for international policy dialogue and regulatory cooperation in order to provide decent work opportunities and foster the growth of sustainable businesses more consistently.

This growth, it said, has underlined the need for international policy dialogue and regulatory cooperation in order to provide decent work opportunities and foster the growth of sustainable businesses more consistently.

According to the report: ‘World Employment and Social Outlook: The role of digital Labour platforms in transforming the world of work,’ digital labour platforms are providing new work opportunities, including for women, persons with disabilities, young people and those marginalized in traditional labour markets.

The platforms also allow businesses to access a large flexible workforce with varied skills, while expanding their customer base.

The report focused on two main types of digital labour platform: online web-based platforms, where tasks are performed online and remotely by workers, and location-based platforms, where tasks are performed at a specified physical location by individuals, such as taxi drivers and delivery workers.

Its findings are based on surveys and interviews with some 12,000 workers and representatives of 85 businesses around the world in multiple sectors.

 

New challenges for workers and businesses

The report said the digital economy provides challenges for platform workers in relation to working conditions, the regularity of work and income, and the lack of access to social protection, freedom of association and collective bargaining rights.

It stated further that working hours can often be long and unpredictable, saying that half of online platform workers earn less than $2 per hour. In addition, it reveals that some platforms have significant gender pay gaps, while the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed many of these issues, says the report.

“Many businesses face challenges relating to unfair competition, non-transparency with regard to data and pricing, and high commission fees. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) also have difficulties accessing finance and digital infrastructure,” the report said.

The ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder said all workers, regardless of employment status, need to be able to exercise their fundamental rights at work.

He hinted that the new opportunities created by digital labour platforms are further blurring the previously clear distinction between employees and the self-employed.

 

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