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Social Protection

The introduction of digital labor platforms redefined labor exchange effecting significant implications to work processes and organization. While platform workers have garnered greater autonomy and income (whether primary or secondary), majority of them have limited social protection, leaving them vulnerable to economic shocks and life contingencies. Platform worker, as self-employed are covered in a similar way to a salaried worker. However, the level is generally lower which the availability and conditions under which social protection benefits heavily depend on rules set out in national legislations and their effective implementation.

Typical challenges in extending social security such as limited coverage, benefit inadequacy and cost in providing the scheme were compounded by several factors namely, fluctuating earnings, legal exclusion, double contribution challenge, limited administrative capacities, lack of information and absence of compliance and enforcement. To ease the barriers in extending social security for platform workers, many countries have taken steps in varying approaches. Some countries have extended both legal and effective coverage to self-employed workers. Innovations were introduced to address administrative barriers, facilitate contribution collection, and promote information and awareness. Generally, countries have leverage on the use of technology and data analytics to cover platform workers in coordination with platform companies. Moreover, social dialogue among the relevant stakeholders contributes to a clearer understanding of platform work toward effective and consistent responses. There are countries (i.e., Italy and Spain) that provided an intermediate category to address classification issues that had been decades in implementation. As a lesson, policy response is not a “one-size fits all” in consideration to the heterogeneity of workers whether in a web-based and location-based platform work. The response may not be suitable under the country’s existing social security arrangements, limited resources, and institutional capacities. However, the social security gaps call for proactive measures that are possible or desirable. The exact combination of interventions and reforms will depend on specific challenges, but the various responses to extend social protection to platform workers can be explored on the following areas: the role of platform companies and tripartite bodies; the role of technology for efficiency and accessibility; the relevance of information exchange and development of tools to capture new forms of work; the applicability of labor standards to ensure decent work; and the possibility of innovations on social security and labor regulations.

KEYWORDS: social protection, social security, platform work, gig economy
RESEARCHER: Miraluna S. Tacadao

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