ILO moves forward in discussions to develop international parameters for digital platform workers
3 abril 2023


Digital platforms. At the end of March, the International Labor Organization (ILO) decided to include in the agenda of the International Labor Conference, to be held in 2025, the discussion of standards that protect the rights of digital platform workers. This indicates that the international organization seeks to prioritize this debate, which could involve the potential development of an International Convention to ensure fair labor standards for workers who provide services through this new booming modality. The ILO’s determination to put on the agenda the regulation of work on platforms arises from an analysis carried out by the entity where regulatory gaps in the matter are identified in order to have a basis for future decision making and the construction of regulations in this regard. 

As a result, the ILO Governing Body requested the development of international standards to address the situation of platform workers. It identified that a set of international labor standards, included in other Conventions, are not being applied to employees subject to the aforementioned modality. He also noted that due to the novelty of the topic, there are new aspects to be considered that are not addressed in current regulations due to the novelty of the topic. Thus, for example, the ILO calls for the unification of criteria for the classification of workers (whether as dependent or self-employed); the prevention of harassment at work; guaranteeing equal remuneration; reaching consensus to define working hours; promoting health and safety at work; among other points that currently generate uncertainty in the application of existing international regulations. 

Thus, the ILO is debating the need to adapt to the new forms of work, with the main objective that platform workers can access the same rights and benefits as traditional workers. It is also worth mentioning that the potential convention will have to be consistent with existing international labor standards, including the aspects mentioned above that characterize labor regulations.

Although discussions within the ILO framework are still incipient, and in view of the 2025 Convention new spaces for debate will have to be convened to eventually draft a convention on the subject, Latin America has already begun to take its first steps in the regulation of platforms. The paradigmatic case is Chile, which already has specific legislation to provide legal certainty to the labor relations of digital platform workers and their hiring conditions. In Colombia, the sector was not exempted from the comprehensive reforms sought by President Gustavo Petro, who in his labor reform bill seeks to incorporate a specific chapter to regulate the labor modality, proposing to regularize work through contracts and provide social security. Finally, and along the same lines as the previous examples, in the Mexican case the issue is entering the agenda of Congress, with various initiatives on the subject having been presented by legislators from different political parties. However, they are still awaiting the reform being prepared by the Ministry of Labor once the dialogues with the sector are concluded.

Next steps

Prior to the 2025 Conference, the ILO will evaluate the best means to promote formality in platforms work. In this way, it will continue to conduct studies with groups of experts and spaces for dialogue in the run-up to the Conference with a view to condensing the conclusions and aspects to be included in a potential Convention into a concrete proposal. Once a consensus has been reached on the approaches that will serve as a guide at the international level to move towards labor formality in the platform economy sector, ILO member countries will have to evaluate and negotiate the proposals developed by the organization.

McDonald’s engagement opportunities

McDonald’s can influence meetings at the ILO Governing Body through the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), an employers’ organization that works closely with the ILO and represents companies around the world on labor and employment issues. In addition, since discussions to provide legal certainty on the matter at the international level are still in their infancy, you can communicate your comments directly to the ILO and its representatives during the working sessions leading up to the 2025 Conference.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the ILO is a tripartite organization composed of governments, employers and workers, and that all parties have a voice and a vote in decision-making. Therefore, the influence of McDonald’s and other employers in the ILO will be limited as they are part of one of the three parties involved in the organization.