Delivering Food in the Gig Economy
Swart, J.J. de
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The internet has opened new opportunities to match the supply of and demand for labour. Through online platforms, work is allocated to workers looking for one-time service jobs. This phenomenon is called ‘the gig economy’. The increased flexibility of gig work often comes at a price: in the gig economy, workers are often treated as independent contractors by the platforms, which implies limited job security, insurance coverage and lacking access to social security. This thesis explores the trade-off regarding on the one hand the lack of insurance and the decline of social security in gig work and on the other hand the increase in job flexibility and income. It does so by analysing how different levels of flexibility, security, and payment influence the choice of job of workers. Two groups of workers can be distinguished in the gig economy. The first group is the freelancing gig workers, who have an independent contractor relation with the platform. The second group, the hired gig workers, work via a so-called on-call min/max-contract relationships. Data on these groups’ preferences was gathered through a discrete choice survey. In this survey, several configurations of work arrangements with differing social security, income and flexibility levels have been presented to the respondents, who were then asked to express their preferences. The survey has been conducted amongst 102 workers in the food delivery industry in the Netherlands. Using a conditional logistic regression model, it is shown that freelancing gig workers prefer payment per delivery and work on-demand more than hired gig workers. Preferences do not differ between hired workers and freelancers regarding sick pay and accident insurance coverage. Two recommendations are given based on these findings: First, the government should introduce a basic social security system for independent contractors to ensure the well-being of the freelancers and counter “race-to-the-bottom” of work conditions. Second, independent contractors should unify and demand work conditions that align with their preferences.