The platform economy, which allows consumers to order food via an app or book services via a website, is here to stay. Things will look different, concludes innovation studies professor Koen Frenken. “This has to do with legislation and regulations.”
The “cowboy years” of the platform economy are over
The bogus freelancing law in particular will become an issue for some platforms. According to Frenken, platforms like WeWork could still exist, but Temper (for catering staff, ed.) sees dark clouds hanging over them. “People do exactly the same work as a working person,” he says. “So I suppose that would also be seen as false self-employment.”
It is also expected that more specific legislation will be introduced in response to lawsuits related to platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo, where algorithms influence how labor is mediated.
The cowboy years
The fact that there will be stricter legislation and regulations for platforms has something to do with the “cowboy years”, when anything was possible. According to platform expert Martin Arits, those times are over because society has learned that it plays an important role. “The community can ensure that platforms operate to the standards we want,” he adds. “A lot of regulations have already come out of Brussels, and there will be more to come.”
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It is known that the focus is mainly on the legal status of workers. The impact of technology on these same workers is also examined. Which angered the platforms. “Companies – and certainly the big platforms – knew from day one that regulation was coming, but they tried to put it off as long as possible.”
A good example of this is Uber and its delivery platform Uber Eats. They are currently experimenting with hiring delivery drivers virtually. A radical change, of course, according to Quinn Frenken. “I was a little surprised by that, but the reason they gave was that they could attract more people that way,” he explains. “You have people who work long hours a week, and you might want to keep them more. You can then create a flexible pool of freelancers around that to accommodate peak periods.
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Uber gives one reason for this, including a tight job market, though according to Frenken, it could also be a precautionary measure. “They may soon have to hire everyone,” he says. “They’re really experimenting with how they want to organize this.” This isn’t a crazy idea either.
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European rules are on their way
Frenken says this fear arises from impending legislation from Brussels. Although nothing is final yet, since all member states will have to try this, there are certainly rules on the way platforms are defined as employers under certain circumstances. “Uber is just a platform that can meet such standards.”
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