Uber, Taskrabbit, & Co: Platforms as Employers? Rethinking the Legal Analysis of Crowdwork

30 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2016 Last revised: 5 Mar 2019

See all articles by Jeremias Prassl

Jeremias Prassl

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Martin Risak

University of Vienna - Department of Labour Law and Law of Social Security

Date Written: February 16, 2016

Abstract

One of the key assumptions underpinning the rise of ‘crowdsourced work’ – from transport apps including Uber to online platforms such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk – is the assertion put forward by most platforms that crowdworkers are self-employed, independent contractors. As a result, individuals might find themselves without recourse to worker-protective norms, from minimum wage and working time law to health and safety regulations and unfair dismissal protection. But is this account accurate? In this paper, we hope to challenge prevailing assumptions, arguing that in certain scenarios crowdworkers can, and should, be classified as workers within the scope of domestic employment law. The approach proposed, however, is an initially counterintuitive one: we advocate the adoption of a functional concept of the employer as a regulatory solution to crowdwork employment, with platforms, crowdworkers, and service users each shouldering their appropriate share of employer responsibilities.

Keywords: crowdwork, uber, taskrabbit, labour law, concept of the employer

JEL Classification: K31

Suggested Citation

Prassl, Jeremias and Risak, Martin, Uber, Taskrabbit, & Co: Platforms as Employers? Rethinking the Legal Analysis of Crowdwork (February 16, 2016). Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, Forthcoming; Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 8/2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2733003

Jeremias Prassl

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

Magdalen College
Oxford, OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Martin Risak (Contact Author)

University of Vienna - Department of Labour Law and Law of Social Security ( email )

Schenkenstrasse 8 - 10
Wien, 1010
Austria

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