Policy responses to new forms of work: International governance of digital labour platforms

Background paper prepared for the 2nd meeting of the G20 Employment Working Group under the Japanese G20 presidency (Tokyo, 22-24 April 2019)

National level responses can address many of the issues arising from new forms of work. With respect to cross-border, web-based digital labour platforms, however, national responses, built for an earlier era, may confront challenges. States that seek to protect or strengthen the rights and benefits of workers on web-based, digital labour platforms may face compliance issues, or may place their workers at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis workers located in other jurisdictions, potentially promoting a race to the bottom in labour standards. Recognizing these difficulties, the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work called for an international governance system for digital labour platforms that could set, and require platforms and their clients to respect certain minimum rights and protections for all workers. In addition to setting minimum standards, an international governance system could establish the infrastructure needed to facilitate payments of social security across borders as well as establish a system of dispute resolution. The ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention offers some guidance on how to move forward.