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Employment in the Platform Age

Until recently, there had been relatively little discussion of what the rapid growth of digital labor platforms meant for the nature of work and the employment relationship. But an important recent report provides answers to many questions – and raises several more that policymakers and regulators need to address.

NEW DELHI – One of the most significant socioeconomic changes accelerated by COVID-19 must surely be the rise of digital labor platforms. Of course, platform-based employment had already been growing exponentially before the pandemic. But the combination of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, and the consequent greater reliance on remote work, has dramatically increased both their spread and intensity of use.

Until recently, there had been relatively little discussion of what the rapid proliferation of digital employment platforms meant for the nature of work and the employment relationship. But an important recent report from the International Labour Organization provides answers to many questions – and raises several more that policymakers and regulators need to address.

What exactly is platform-based work? Platforms are effectively digital marketplaces, connecting producers and consumers of goods and services – and in the case of employment platforms, connecting workers with those who would use their labor.

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