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Cross-post: Fairwork report assesses quality of jobtech work in Kenya

Apr 5, 2022 | Unpacking the Box

By Caroline Omware

Platform work has grown significantly thanks to technological advancements. Platform work is now one of the many ways through which people make a livelihood. Kenya is at the intersection of a large informal sector, a youthful and unemployed majority as well as rapid digitization. This has encouraged both local and international digital platforms to set up and take advantage of the country’s position as a hub of technological innovation. However, the lack of labor standards within the platform industry is a major issue, as it leaves workers unprotected from risks that are associated with their work and exposes them to unfair working conditions. 

Organizations such as Fairworks though have taken it upon themselves to start conversations around the platform economy. By engaging key stakeholders in this industry, they have come up with principles that can define fair platform work and use these to score digital labor platforms. Through this scoring, Fairwork, in collaboration with Qhala Ltd, aims to show stakeholders not only what the platform workspace looks like but also what it can be – especially in terms of providing fair conditions.

Findings from the study

The first year of the Kenya study (here) rated and scored nine platforms in the ride hailing, delivery and home cleaning services. It was clear that most international platforms and some local ones had policies and procedures in place. However these were neither  visible  nor easily  accessible to  most of their platform workers. While  Glovo scored  the highest at 7 out of 10 points overall, it still failed to meet standards in two important principles, namely fair pay and fair representation. However, it was comforting to learn that there are platforms that are trying to strike the balance between business and worker welfare.

The research also revealed major regulatory gaps, as Kenya’s labour laws currently do not currently recognize platform work the same way they do  other types of work. This study presents opportunities for local platforms alongside other stakeholders to develop regulations and policies that foster the growth and development of the local platform labor market.

Going forward, there needs to be a stronger  relationship between digital platforms, workers unions and policy makers in order to provide protections to workers. A stronger relationship between these stakeholders will  encourage  platforms to adopt fair principles, formulate policies guided by local laws, and apply those policies consistently.

You can read the full Fairwork Kenya report here.

The author is a lead researcher at Qhala and is currently heading the Fairwork Project In Kenya.


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