Work in the Platform Economy: Deliveroo Riders in Belgium and the SMart Arrangement

45 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2019 Last revised: 19 Jan 2019

See all articles by Jan Drahokoupil

Jan Drahokoupil

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES); European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)

Agnieszka Piasna

European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)

Date Written: January 15, 2019

Abstract

This paper presents a case study of the food delivery platform, Deliveroo, in Belgium in 2016-2018. The case offers insights on the nature of platform work, the workers who perform it, the preferences of workers, the strategy of the platforms, and the role of local regulations. Interestingly, Deliveroo in Belgium employed workers through an intermediary, SMart, and we also observed the termination of their co-operation in the period under analysis. Using administrative data provided by SMart and a survey of workers, we analyse patterns of work and also focus on pay. We investigate the characteristics of the workers, their preferences regarding working conditions and their motivation for engaging in platform work. We identify that the jobs are lowhours and low-income, performed primarily by precarious student workers. We show that the SMart arrangement was motivated primarily by the specifics of the Belgian tax system. Even so, it provided workers with protections that they valued, including income security. Contrary to what the platform claimed, the abandonment of the SMart system did not offer the riders the flexibility they desired. Instead, it reduced their degree of autonomy and control in relation to the platform.

Keywords: digital economy ; sharing economy ; crowd work ; employment ; working conditions ; low wages ; delivery ; case study ; work organization ; Belgium

Suggested Citation

Drahokoupil, Jan and Piasna, Agnieszka, Work in the Platform Economy: Deliveroo Riders in Belgium and the SMart Arrangement (January 15, 2019). ETUI Research Paper - Working Paper 2019.01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3316133 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3316133

Jan Drahokoupil (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://drahokoupil.blogspot.com

European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) ( email )

B-1210 Brussels
Belgium

Agnieszka Piasna

European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) ( email )

B-1210 Brussels
Belgium

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