Sharing economy and standards

One of the many aspects the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is working on is the sharing economy. People who work for online platforms (like Uber, Deliveroo, etc.) often report extreme levels of control, precarious working conditions and no health and safety protection. ETUC therefore calls for European law to regulate working conditions for online platforms. In a context of ageing demographics, PROGRESSIVE recalls that older people are both workers of this economy and beneficiaries of services provided by these platforms.

ETUC demands:

1) European law to regulate working conditions for online platforms, and to ensure that online platforms employers take responsibility for those they employ (and who they often unfairly treat as selfemployed);

2) The Commission to go ahead with a proposal for a revision of the Written Statement Directive to cover online platforms (the Directive obliges employers to give workers a statement of their working conditions).

In a recently adopted resolution, European trade unions stated: “Online platforms advertise greater freedom, whereas in reality the workers report extreme levels of control, low-skilled work, low pay, no opportunity to negotiate wages, precarious working conditions and no health and safety protections.”

 

Older persons and the sharing economy

The sharing economy again offers both opportunities and challenges in the context of Europe’s ageing demographics. Many household services are provided through platforms as a means of responding to increasing demand for care and non-care services for older adults living at home. In the UK, a new arrangement was recently signed with the National Health Service (NHS) and special Ubers to transport elderly patients to the hospital.

Older persons are not only consumers in this economy but also contributors. As reported by a recent study from the European Platform Undeclared Work published in November 2017, “although people in the age group 15-24 years were slightly more likely than older people to have offered a service once (11% compared to 8% in each of the older age categories), older people were more likely to offer services occasionally (every few months) or regularly (monthly). For example, 8% of those aged 40 to 54 years said that they offered a service every month compared to one percent of those in the age group 15-24 years“.

 

Standards to frame the sharing economy

Standards organisations are working on the issue. For instance, ISO has prepared a Workshop Agreement, IWA 27:2017 “Guiding principles and framework for the sharing economy”, which was published in 2017. The guidelines cover principles such as accountability, inclusion, health and safety as well as privacy. IWA 27 is now being implemented and “tested” on the market. Yet synergies with other initiatives on the ageing workforce or ageing societies are still to be developed.

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