The New York Times has just published an account of how the gig economy is impacting negatively on jobs in the hotel industry in the USA. It shows how the app economy promotes ‘independent contractors’ to the career loss of full-time jobs for workers. These contractors tend to be part-time ‘app workers’ or ‘platform workers’, responsible for their own health insurance and with low income, who undertake some of the work tasks of a full-time worker, in effect de-skilling certain occupations. For employers, it reduces social security and pension costs, making them even more profitable.
Automation and technological change are not the only challenges to the world of work and occupations. The development of the ‘app worker’ is more pernicious for work and society. The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work has published a discussion paper on regulatory and policy developments for the protection of ‘platform workers’. The European Parliament (April 2019) approved legislation guaranteeing minimum rights and protections to ‘platform workers’, ‘on-demand workers’, and ‘voucher-based workers’. Such legislation had already been approved by employment ministers of all EU countries.