This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders — from around the world and all parts of society — address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
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As part of an OECD Forum series, the virtual event Empowering Workers, Delivering a Jobs-rich Recovery took place on 13 July 2021 —watch the replay below!
The world of work was already changing before the COVID-19 pandemic—when life came to a standstill last year, however, this transition only accelerated. Platforms and platform workers have proven resilient in a rapidly changing world, providing essential services and keeping things moving in light of a global crisis.
We already know that platform work offers vital flexibility, especially in uncertain times. Between 2018 and 2020, for example, over 600,000 European drivers and couriers earned more than EUR 12bn (excluding tips) via Uber. Forty percent of Eats couriers in six EU countries began delivering to compensate for COVID-19-related wage cuts or unemployment. But as much as COVID-19 proved how essential platform workers are, it also highlighted the need for improved standards and protections.
Read the report "What have platforms done to protect workers during the coronavirus crisis?" and visit the OECD's COVID-19 Hub to browse hundreds of policy responses
As the world begins to build back, the diversity and flexibility of platform work will have an essential role to ensure a green, sustainable and full economic recovery, in Europe and throughout the world. It is essential to strike a balance between the flexibility that platform workers deserve and job creation, innovation, growth and access to social protections.
Some platforms are already taking ambitious action. In March, Uber launched its platform work commitment, A Better Deal, pledging to continue working with policy-makers to drive forward standards for platform workers and increase access to social protections. According to our pledge, flexible working conditions can go hand in hand with reliable benefits and protections.
Our commitment goes beyond work; we believe that good platform work also creates opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. That’s why Uber has partnered with organisations such as with Chance and Campus VTC in France and the Open University in the United Kingdom, expanding access to further education and training for our partners, and opening doors to professional opportunities on the labour market.
Taking a holistic approach to quality platform work is an imperative—after all, platform workers play an essential role in helping our cities to “build back better” and be smarter, safer and greener. This means rethinking urban mobility, and new mobility platforms will play an important part in the transition to sustainable, multimodal transport. The cities of the future must have public transport as their backbone, and innovative solutions such as shared and collaborative mobility services (shared cars, bikes, ride-hailing, and other forms of micro-mobility) and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) will be key enablers. Multimodal mobility and low-carbon transport solutions must be at the core of the new European Urban Mobility Framework.
Read more on the Forum Network: "Keep Calm and Plan! Notes on cities after COVID-19" by Pier Paolo Tamburelli, Architect & Partner, baukuh
There is still much to be done, and uniform sectoral standards and industry-wide reforms will be key to boosting the transition towards a sustainable, smart and resilient platform economy. A level playing field for all that encourages innovation and competition across platforms is in everyone’s interest, especially given that platform workers often work with more than one service simultaneously. Protections, benefits, flexibility and job creation are not mutually exclusive—and progressive laws can preserve the value of this unique form of work, all while better protecting it.
Independent workers are the heart of the platform economy. By working together, stakeholders, social representatives and policy makers can create positive frameworks and policies that protect, support and reflect the value they bring to our new and ever-changing world.
Read the latest OECD Employment Outlook 2021: Navigating the COVID-19 crisis and recovery and find out more about the challenges brought about by the crisis and the policies to address them
|Tackling COVID-19||New Societal Contract||Future of Work|
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