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Workers in the gig economy: employees or self-employed? - A comparative study on the concept of employment in the “gig economy”, focusing on Sweden and the United Kingdom

Joelsson, Anna LU (2017) HARP23 20171
Department of Business Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Syftet med denna uppsats är att ge en överblick över det nya, men snabbt växande, konceptet crowdsourcing. Konceptet kan enkelt beskrivas som en åtgärd att ta en uppgift som vanligtvis utförs av en utsedd arbetspresterande part (vanligtvis en anställd) och outsourca denna till en odefinerad, anonym och generellt stort grupp av människor i form av en ”öppen inbjudan”. Marknaden har under det senaste decenniet exploderat med företag som marknadsför sig som plattformar som möjliggör crowdsourcing. Uber är kanske den mest kända av dessa. Individer ansluter sig till Uber eller andra crowdsourcingföretag som oberoende uppdragstagare eller egenföretagare i hopp om att tjäna pengar.

Problemet som uppstår i denna situation är att många av dessa... (More)
Syftet med denna uppsats är att ge en överblick över det nya, men snabbt växande, konceptet crowdsourcing. Konceptet kan enkelt beskrivas som en åtgärd att ta en uppgift som vanligtvis utförs av en utsedd arbetspresterande part (vanligtvis en anställd) och outsourca denna till en odefinerad, anonym och generellt stort grupp av människor i form av en ”öppen inbjudan”. Marknaden har under det senaste decenniet exploderat med företag som marknadsför sig som plattformar som möjliggör crowdsourcing. Uber är kanske den mest kända av dessa. Individer ansluter sig till Uber eller andra crowdsourcingföretag som oberoende uppdragstagare eller egenföretagare i hopp om att tjäna pengar.

Problemet som uppstår i denna situation är att många av dessa företag är mer än bara plattformar som möjliggör crowdsourcing. De blir en tredje part i det avtalsförhållande som uppstår mellan den som outsourcar, och den arbetspresterande parten. Ofta har de ett stort inflytande över genomförandet av de tjänster som erbjuds via plattformen och den ersättning som utgår. Detta gör att det avtalsförhållande som uppstår avviker från vad som anses normalt för en oberoende uppdragstagare eller egenföretagare. Ett ytterligare syfte med denna uppsats är således att undersöka möjligheten att bemöta dessa nya förhållanden genom att applicera arbetstagarbegreppet. Är de som utför jobb genom dessa företag verkligen egenföretagare och oberoende uppdragstagare eller blir begreppet missbrukat i syfte att kringgå tvinga lagstiftning och kollektivavtal?

Resultaten från denna uppsats visar tecken både för och emot denna fråga. I svensk lagstiftning är arbetstagarbegreppet väldigt brett och visar prov på en stor anpassningsförmåga. Frågan är dock hur skydd ska regleras för de som faktiskt är egenföretagare. Arbetsrättslig lagstiftning och de skydd som medföljer förutsätter att en arbetspresterande part generellt är en arbetstagare. Med en växande andel egenföretagare ökar också risken för en större del av befolkningen. Resultaten i uppsatsen visare vidare att arbetstagarbegreppets anpassningsförmåga kanske inte är den springande punkten, utan att fokus även bör läggas på att identifiera arbetsgivarens funktion, sprida risken mellan parterna och även hitta andra sätt att anpassa marknaden efter nya utvecklingar. (Less)
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to provide an overview of the new, but rapidly growing, concept of crowdsourcing. The basis of the concept can be described as the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call. In the last couple of decades, the market has exploded with companies that market themselves as platforms that enable crowdsourcing, among which Uber might be the most famous one. People who join Uber or other crowdsourcing companies do so as independent contractors or self-employed workers in the hope of earning money.

The problem arising in this situation is that many of these companies are more... (More)
The purpose of this thesis is to provide an overview of the new, but rapidly growing, concept of crowdsourcing. The basis of the concept can be described as the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call. In the last couple of decades, the market has exploded with companies that market themselves as platforms that enable crowdsourcing, among which Uber might be the most famous one. People who join Uber or other crowdsourcing companies do so as independent contractors or self-employed workers in the hope of earning money.

The problem arising in this situation is that many of these companies are more than just platforms that enable crowdsourcing. They become a third party of the contractual relationship between the consumer and the performing party. The platforms often has a great deal of influence over the implementation of the services offered through the platform and the remuneration that expires. The contractual relationship formed deviates from what is considered normal regarding independent contractors or self-employed works, whom often have a greater deal of autonomy. An additional purpose of this paper is thus to investigate the possibility of apply the concept of employment to the relationships occurring in chosen gig-economy platforms and asses the possibility for a performing party to be considered an employee. Are the people performing work in these companies really self-employed and independent workers or is the term abused to circumvent legislation and collective agreements?

The results from this thesis shows signs both for and against this question. In the Swedish legislation, the notion of ‘employee’ is very broad and shows great adaptability. The question is how protection should be regulated for those who are actually considered self-employed, though with a greater dependence on the crowdsourcing companies. The protection following the labour law is generally under the presumption that the object of protection is an employee. With an increase in self-employed workers and independent contractors, there is also an increase in risk for these performing parties. The result of the paper further shows that the adaptability of the notion of ’employee’ should perhaps not be the area on which to focus. On the contrary, focus should also be put on identifying the employer’s function, spreading the risk between the parties and by other means adapting the market in accordance with new and exciting developments. (Less)
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author
Joelsson, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
course
HARP23 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Sharing economy, crowdsourcing, Gig economy, concept of employment, employee, self-employed
language
English
id
8911988
date added to LUP
2017-06-09 08:34:38
date last changed
2017-06-09 08:34:38
@misc{8911988,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this thesis is to provide an overview of the new, but rapidly growing, concept of crowdsourcing. The basis of the concept can be described as the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call. In the last couple of decades, the market has exploded with companies that market themselves as platforms that enable crowdsourcing, among which Uber might be the most famous one. People who join Uber or other crowdsourcing companies do so as independent contractors or self-employed workers in the hope of earning money.

The problem arising in this situation is that many of these companies are more than just platforms that enable crowdsourcing. They become a third party of the contractual relationship between the consumer and the performing party. The platforms often has a great deal of influence over the implementation of the services offered through the platform and the remuneration that expires. The contractual relationship formed deviates from what is considered normal regarding independent contractors or self-employed works, whom often have a greater deal of autonomy. An additional purpose of this paper is thus to investigate the possibility of apply the concept of employment to the relationships occurring in chosen gig-economy platforms and asses the possibility for a performing party to be considered an employee. Are the people performing work in these companies really self-employed and independent workers or is the term abused to circumvent legislation and collective agreements?

The results from this thesis shows signs both for and against this question. In the Swedish legislation, the notion of ‘employee’ is very broad and shows great adaptability. The question is how protection should be regulated for those who are actually considered self-employed, though with a greater dependence on the crowdsourcing companies. The protection following the labour law is generally under the presumption that the object of protection is an employee. With an increase in self-employed workers and independent contractors, there is also an increase in risk for these performing parties. The result of the paper further shows that the adaptability of the notion of ’employee’ should perhaps not be the area on which to focus. On the contrary, focus should also be put on identifying the employer’s function, spreading the risk between the parties and by other means adapting the market in accordance with new and exciting developments.},
  author       = {Joelsson, Anna},
  keyword      = {Sharing economy,crowdsourcing,Gig economy,concept of employment,employee,self-employed},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Workers in the gig economy: employees or self-employed? - A comparative study on the concept of employment in the “gig economy”, focusing on Sweden and the United Kingdom},
  year         = {2017},
}