Founder & President and Executive Vice President, Sustainability at Mastercard, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
Cabinet Expert of Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs&Social Rights,
Founder and CEO, Yepstr
Senior Vice President of Social Impact, International Markets, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth,
Video and audio recordings
The sharing economy is based on a simple principle: people do not use all the economic resources they possess. They may have assets, own a car or a property; they may have time they could employ with profit. Online platforms match them with individuals whose needs are not met or could be met at a better price. The success of this business model has been reflected in its relentless growth: by 2018, one out of four Europeans used a sharing economy service.
Over time, however, what intuitively initially appeared as a win-win-win, gave rise to ever bigger concerns. Prominently, the suppliers of sharing economy services found themselves in a regulatory vacuum: they often experience a level of control by platforms comparable to that exerted by traditional employers on their employees. Yet, they often qualify as self-employed, thus lacking the social protection and safety nets that are a basic right for employed workers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this irony: ‘platform workers’ have played an essential role, for example catering for package delivery to locked-down households or complementing public transport services. They were highly exposed to health risk, without adequate protection. And their earnings deflated, because the disruption in labour markets brought about by the pandemic has led many to seek a source of earning in the sharing economy, dramatically increasing competitive pressure on platform workers.
In this workshop, distinguished speakers from institutions, business and academia grappled with a challenge that, more than ever, requires an urgent effective policy answer: how to protect platform workers while preserving the opportunities and benefits that are generated by the sharing economy?