PANEL: Surveillance tech as misclassification 2.0 for the gig economy? 

For almost a decade, gig economy employers have relied on sham contract terms to misclassify workers as independent contractors to deny them their statutory rights. Recently, some workers have been successful in asserting their rights in court. But the key to legal victory is proving that such workers we indeed under the direct management control of the employer and not truly independent. Since these victories, gig employers have taken steps to conceal the true nature of the relationship.

Language at work is much more buttoned-up and the controlling hand of management is hidden in a management function. Automated decision-making driver key processes that impact workers such as recruitment, performance management, work allocation, pay and even dismissals. We have seen a rise in surveillance tech in the name of platform safety and anti-fraud detection. Platform employers even profile staff based on predictive ‘fraud probability scores’ and used such profiles, not to dismiss an employee though to be engaged in criminal fraud, but to instead prioritize automated work allocation decision making. In other words, it is not really a worker fraud prediction score as much as it is really a management performance rating in disguise. Wider adoption of facial recognition systems with a known unacceptable failure rate, when used with people of colour, has led to discrimination and unfair dismissals.

In this session, we will consider:

  • How gig employers have adapted by using tech to conceal management control?
  • The regulatory and legal drivers of gig employer adoption of worker surveillance tech?
  • How gig platforms are cooperating with state security services to share personal data and why?
  • How can workers and unions organize to take back control of their digital footprint at work?

  • Moderators: James Farrar, Workers Info Exchange

Speakers (TBC):

  • Ayoade Ibrahim, President of National Union of Professional App-Based Transport Workers (NUPABTW), Nigeria
  • Kate McGrew, ESWA
  • Aida Ponce Del Castillo, ETUI

Check out the full programme here.

Registrations are open until 24 January, 2022 here.