Debate about platform work – as a new economic and labour market phenomenon – involves at least two general types of problems, which are as follows: the legal interpretation of the employment relations between the three actors involved (i.e. platform, client, subcontractor), and the social protection of subcontractors and employees under this activity. Moreover, the labour market and business model practices implemented by on-line work platforms encounter a variety of economic contexts (or varieties of capitalism) in different countries, thus these practices are formed according to local context. The emergence of platform work in Poland – which represents the Central East Europe (CEE) region in the Don’t GIG up! project – manifests itself in a manner that is adequate to the country’s (or region’s) specificity.
As much as 11% of Poles aged 18-65 had experience with platform work, but only 4% of Poles work this way on regular basis. Platform work is predominantly a side job (for 71% platform workers) and related to low wages (40% of regular platform workers earn less than € 240 per month, further 26% earn between € 240-480 per month) and unpredictable or small number of working hours. It enters mostly into labour market segments that are already flexible and amplifies recent processes of ‘precariatisation’ of certain groups rather than contributing to the innovativeness of the economy. It might also contribute to development of a shadow economy and to undeclared work. Currently, there are no regulations or draft regulations addressed to on-line platforms nor platform work in the country (with some exception for person transportation services). Social partners in Poland express only small interest in platform work due to its marginal significance to labour market, but they recognize it as a challenge in the nearest future. High dispersion of platform workers poses a great challenge for organising them in trade unions and therefore for their participation in collective bargaining, which puts platform workers in weak position while claiming their rights.
From peer review (Dr Rafał Towalski, Warsaw School of Economics): Reading the report "Do not GIG up! Extending social protection to GIG workers in Poland" devoted to work provided through digital platforms, one would like to say "The future is now! Do not GIG up!". There are over 270 digital platforms in Europe, where more and more people are looking for jobs. Dominik Owczarek – the author of the report – estimates that every tenth professionally active person had an experience with this kind of work in Poland so far. This work is becoming more and more popular especially among young people. Meanwhile, the European institutions warn that this form of work is less rewarded and lacking legal and social protection. It is the high time to move the issue of platform work described in the report from the periphery of the public debate to its centre. This is a must-read report for politicians and researchers of the new economy!