This sightline examines the impacts of COVID-19 on groups of workers in the platform economy, for example in food delivery, ridesharing, and retail warehousing. Companies like Foodora, SkiptheDishes, Uber (including Uber Eats), and Lyft have become synonymous with the platform economy as they are based on digital platforms that seemingly give control of transactions to customers and service providers. Amazon has a leading global profile in the platform economy and also makes extensive use of digital technologies in the intensification and surveillance of work in its warehouses (Delfanti 2018). These groups of workers are all severely impacted by COVID-19. Workers engaged in food delivery and ridesharing face increased health risks due to potential contact with the general public given the interactive nature of their service work. Additionally, the precariousness of these forms of work leaves these workers with a lack of both regulatory protection and income security in the context of the pandemic. As the demand for retail delivery services has escalated given the conditions of self-isolation imposed on the general public, workers in Amazon’s fulfillment centres (warehouses) face increased health risks due to both potential contact with co-workers and through the further intensification of work pace to meet the increased demand.
Daniel Spurk and Caroline Straub, Journal of Vocational Behavior (Volume 119): Flexible employment relationships and careers in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. (June 2020).
...most media reports focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on changes in work arrangements (e.g., short-time work, flexible location and hours) for workers in a regular employment relationship. We here focus on workers in flexible employment relationships (e.g. temporary agency work and other forms of subcontracted labor, as well as new forms of working, such as in the gig economy).
- Marcelo Rochabrun and Gabriela Mello, The Globe and Mail: In Brazil, delivery workers for Uber, other apps protest amid pandemic. (July 1, 2020).
- Yan Xiao and Janette Chung, World Economic Forum: 3 challenges facing global gig economy growth after COVID-19. (June 15, 2020).
- Toronto Star: The gig is up: Foodora’s exit, explained. (April 30, 2020).
- Sarah Jones, New York Magazine: Amazon Walkouts are Spreading. (April 30, 2020).
- Kate Conger, New York Times: Uber and Lyft Are Searching for Lifelines. (April 17, 2020).
- Nick Rose, Yahoo! Finance: Contract workers 'are without protections' amid COVID-19 pandemic: Kara Swisher. (April 14, 2020).