Combating Slavery at the Doorstep: Implementing SDGs in the Gig Economy

21 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2023

Date Written: 2022


The emergence of the internet-enabled platform economy has led to a significant increase in the availability of online mediated gig work opportunities. This covers a wide spectrum of working arrangements like casual work, platform dependent self-employment, informal work, piecework, etc., performed across a wide range of sectors and with diverse skill-sets.3 Now growing at an unignorable rate,4 the structure of work under the gig economy has implications for the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Evidence from research attest that platform work can potentially contribute to SDG 8, particularly in relation to lowering entry barriers to market participation, facilitating job creation, increased work flexibility, and revenue generation,5 and this especially amongst workers with a distance to the traditional labor market. The link between platform work and SDG 8 is however not self-evident. Platforms are market driven and target profit maximization, and the dominant platform auction model create significant human rights and sustainability concerns, relating to job security, humane working conditions, and entitlement to employment benefits.6 These challenges became more profoundly highlighted in the heat of the COVID-19 Pandemic, with gig workers not being entitled to most of the economic and social buffers, unlike those in traditional structured employments.7 Moreover, while gig workers and especially delivery workers provided the necessary life line for retail and consumers, they often lacked necessary covid-protection mechanisms themselves.

Benchmarked on the target for decent work under SDG 8.5, this research examines how the gig economy impacts the attainment of sustainable development. The research utilizes the doctrinal research method, and relies on the results of relevant empirical research on the subject. The hypothesis of this research is that though with the potential of impacting positively on the attainment on the SDGs, the gig economy, as currently structured, is unsustainable. The research discusses the attempt at the EU level to secure a more sustainable gig economy through the proposed directive on improving working conditions in platform work, and proposes that a combination of minimum wage and collective bargaining would be a more effective and inclusive approach to attaining sustainability in the gig economy.

Keywords: Young YUFE, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SDG 8, Target 8.5

Suggested Citation

Lari-Williams, Feyisayo and Verheyen, Wouter, Combating Slavery at the Doorstep: Implementing SDGs in the Gig Economy (2022). Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) Law Conference Proceedings No. 01/2022, Available at SSRN: or

Feyisayo Lari-Williams (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, 2000

Wouter Verheyen

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, 2000

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