The employment rights gig workers should be entitled has dominated discourse over the past year.
Hot on the heels of Uber losing a supreme court case and moving to take advantage of the UK’s unique ‘worker’ classification, which sits between ‘employee’ and ‘self-employed’, Just Eat also announced it would transform its European couriers into ‘workers’.
This change means that Uber and Just Eat drivers and riders will be entitled to benefits like sick and holiday pay, and minimum hourly wage. Uber has also committed to providing employer pension contributions and the right to join the GMB union to its UK drivers.
However, in a knock to this success, Deliveroo then won a UK Court of Appeal case over worker status. As a result, Deliveroo’s riders remain designated as self-employed without the right to join a union.
Uber later joined up with GMB to call on other ride-hailing companies, like Addison Lee, Lyft and Bolt, to follow suit and do better by their drivers.
Now European food delivery platform Glovo has decided to commit itself to making the working conditions of its gig couriers fairer.
To do this, Glovo has launched ‘The Couriers Pledge’, which aims to create a ‘fairer’ social standard for gig work across the European and African markets it operates in.
It has four pillars – fair earnings per hour, 360-degree safety through courier insurance, proactive management that involves two-way communication, and caring for couriers by “fostering learning opportunities”.
The idea is that these changes will be rolled out over the next two years, starting with Georgia and Morocco. Glovo hopes to have reached 40% of its markets by the end of 2022.
Talking about the announcement to TechCrunch, Glovo co-founder Sacha Michaud said: “We identified that this is the right thing to do and we’re going to commit openly to doing that.
“We need a window to execute on that in the different regions for the complexity of our business from an operations perspective and regulatory and we’ll find a way to make it happen in every single country — and the ones we launch in the future as well.”
All of these moves by gig economy companies come as European countries, like Spain and Portugal, as well as the European Union (EU) rethink their labor laws around gig work.
The UK legislature is also considering implementing a Status of Workers Bill that will give insecure workers, including those in the gig economy, more employment rights similar to those designated as ‘employees receive’.
Fairwork to hold Glovo to account
Interestingly, Glovo’s pledge has been developed with the support of Fairwork, a University of Oxford project that aims to ensure that platform and gig workers do not face precarious working conditions.
The gig company has also purposely made the pledge an open one and hopes that its competitors in the gig economy will follow suit and implement similar commitments.
While Fairwork is “pleased” Glovo “solicited our advice in this process, and has indicated openness to being held accountable to their commitments by Fairwork”, it notes that Glovo’s reputation around fair work is not great.
“Glovo has never yet achieved a high Fairwork score. Indeed, our evaluations of the company in countries such as Ecuador and Ghana show that a lot of improvement is needed before the jobs that the company provides could be considered fair”, noted Fairwork in a blogpost.
Therefore, the body will be keeping a close eye on Glovo’s success and progress. “During this process, we will be collaborating closely with local unions and workers associations to ensure that all the concerns of workers are included in the assessment process.
“Fairwork will not receive any compensation from Glovo for this research, and the results will be publicly available.”
All of this news in the gig economy suggests that the future of work for gig workers should be better than the past or the current realities.
But this is only if new regulations are properly enforced and companies continue to be held account by the likes of unions to go even further than they are legally required to improve working conditions in the industry.