November 14, 2023

Strengthening partnership between gig workers and digital platforms

Indonesia's expanding digital economy has created new job opportunities for gig workers, whose growth has been accelerated by the continuous technological innovation. Gig workers such as motorcycle taxi drivers, household assistants, couriers and other service providers, find it easier to meet market demand through digital platforms. Customers as users of these platforms also benefit greatly from the existence of such gig services.

Their contribution to the economy has been recognized. Ride-hailing alone, for example, contributed Rp 382.62 (US$25 billion) in 2022, according to one study. And this platform-based gig industry has provided the necessary jobs for those who badly need them in times of crisis. However, the partnership model between digital platforms and their gig partners is often characterized by asymmetric relations and the unfulfilled well-being of partners. Because of this, gig partners have been demanding a revisit of their relations with platforms.

After conducting a comparative study of practices in other countries, a series of focus group discussions with gig workers, consumers and platforms, as well as interviews with experts and regulators, we are of the opinion that the partnership model between gig workers and platforms is the best option for Indonesia, where the majority of the productive population work in the informal sector. Nevertheless, looking into the grievances of gig workers, we suggest that the current partnership arrangement be strengthened to help improve the welfare of gig workers.

This policy paper provides a framework of thought and policy recommendations on how to strengthen the partnership between platforms and their gig partners. Factors influencing the current situation need to be carefully considered to strike a balance between the interests of those involved in the digital economy. This effort is essential to create a conducive and competitive digital economic ecosystem that is fair to all.