OECD collaboration – Measures by platforms during the pandemic

AppJobs Institute partnered with OECD in conducting a research exercise on measures taken by gig platforms during the 2020 coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

According to OECD projections as of 10 June 2020, should a second wave hit, economic activity globally could fall 7.6% and unemployment within OECD countries could potentially reach 12.6%. Yet if this can be avoided the implications of the pandemic are predicted to that unemployment will taper off at 9.2% with a 6% drop in the global economy.  

This research exercise is a deep-dive into the efforts taken by 64 different gig platforms to ensure the health and safety of the independent contractors while also providing financial support during economic trying times. This research is in combination with a survey answered by 745 Appjobs members or gig platform workers to evaluate the accessibility of the measures taken as well as an assessment on the satisfaction of the support given. The platforms researched are ones that were affected most due to the nature of the work involving more social interactions. 

In terms of health and safety precautions taken by platforms were primarily centered around social distancing. For delivery jobs these measures were such as reducing contact with customers such as GrubHub introducing contactless delivery services, and many other delivery platforms removed the need for signatures when delivering. Some other common measures were implementing the need for drivers and riders to wear masks while or only to use carpooling services for essential travel. While other platforms gave workers more freedom to decide which jobs or tasks they felt comfortable doing in order to maintain their well being. 

Along with these changes, a fourth of the platforms researched either provided or reimbursed personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves, and/or hygiene products, such as disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser. Platforms sent PPE to workers’ homes or had pick-up points where such resources were available. An example is Stuartr, a UK based platform, reimbursed 30 GBP of protective equipment per 30-day period for those delivered at least 20 days out of the period. 

Platforms also catered to the needs of the independent contractors by partnering with telehealth companies to provide free or reduced-cost medical consultations or testing, this was especially prevalent in the US. Delivery platform Doordash and its subsidiary Caviar offered $4 virtual medical consultations while other companies such as Uber offered workers a free COVID-19 risk assessment, which would then provide a free medical consultation for any workers qualified as highest risk. 

745 gig platform workers that are members with Appjobs responded to a survey detailing the aid that they have received. When surveyed 44% workers responded with dissatisfaction with the resources provided by companies with 35% of respondents reporting that their platform(s) had provided some kind of aid or resources. Figure 2 presents a breakdown of the prevalence of, and satisfaction with, measures taken by type of platform, as reported by workers. Most of the resources provided to the workers were full/partial sick pay (41%), social distancing/use of PPE (35%), communication with workers/associations (24%), flexibility in how to perform work (23%). 

In terms of accessibility of the resources, 38% of those surveyed said that it was easy/relatively easy (38%) to access these resources while 30% responded that it was hard/relatively hard (30%).

When asked what measures respondents would have desired during the pandemic,  COVID-19 crisis, 44% of respondents said that they would like or needed platforms to take measures on top of the measures already taken. When asked what further could have been done, many of the workers expressed and need for more work or a supplement for the income. Along with this they also expressed the need for access to benefits, such as sick leave, benefits, or furlough; a safer work environment such as distancing measure with customers or PPE; as well as better treatment and communication from platforms

To read more click check out the OECD report here