Fairwork India Ratings 2022: Labour Standards in the Platform Economy


This report was published by the Fairwork India team, led by the Centre for IT and Public Policy (CITAPP) at the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore. It rates the working conditions of 12 digital labour platforms in India – Urban Company, bigbasket, Flipkart, Swiggy, Zomato, Zepto, Amazon Flex, Porter, Dunzo, Ola, PharmEasy, and Uber.  

The report evaluates platforms against a 10-point score system based on the principles of “Fair Pay, Fair Conditions, Fair Contracts, Fair Management, Fair Representation”. It engages with the theme of flexibility and how it impacts working for digital labour platforms. While workers have highlighted the need of a stable income, the report states, platforms have been hesitant to commit to and practice a minimum wage policy. The report also suggests improvements in policy.   

The report interviewed 348 workers in Bangalore, Delhi, and Kochi. It also includes evidence provided by the platforms based on surveys and interviews with platform management. 

This 44-page document is divided into 15 sections: Executive Summary (Section 1); Key Findings (Section 2); Editorial: Flexibility for Whom? (Section 3); The Fairwork Project: Towards Decent Labour Standards in the Platform Economy (Section 4); The Fairwork Framework (Section 5); Background: The “booming” platform economy in India? (Section 6); The Legal and Policy Context: Debating Worker Status (Section 7); Fairwork India Scores 2022 (Section 8); Changes in Focus (Section 9); Workers’ Stories (Section 10); Themes in Focus: Flexibility (Section 11); Pathways to change (Section 12); The Fairwork Pledge (Section 13); and Appendix: the Fairwork Scoring System (Section 13); Endnotes (Section 14); Credits and Funding (Section 15).


  1. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) a “digital labour platform” is an enterprise that facilitates “labour exchange between different users, such as businesses, workers and consumers”. Fairwork differentiates platforms as two subtypes: “geographically-tethered” or “gig-work” platforms, where work is done in a particular location, and “cloudwork” platforms where work can be performed from anywhere, via the internet.

  2. Flexibility to work for as long or as little as they wish is especially harmful for workers with regards to pay. While platforms promise lucrative incomes with flexible timings and work-hours, what workers can earn is limited because of several requirements platforms enforce, such as mandated number of login hours and the need to sign up for weekly work slots.

  3. Platforms determine and fix remuneration in the form of rate cards, incentives, and offers, where workers have little say. As per the report, there is also great uncertainty in earnings because of deductions such as penalties, service fees, tolls, and taxes, which creates an implicit form of economic control.

  4. One worker from Kochi reports “While we can turn it [the Uber app] on and off whenever we want, there will not be any benefit for us if we turn it off like that. In the morning, when there is a trip, it will be 5 km away, and the actual journey will be 4 km. But they don’t give us cash for the total 9 km; they only pay for the 4 km. We can only make up for this if we drive till the evening.” This, the report explains, signals at a lack of agency promised to workers in the platform economy.

  5. As workers are theoretically free to work on multiple platforms, platforms assert that they cannot be expected to provide social security funds or benefits such as sick leave. Only three out of the 12 platforms studied also offered compensation when workers are sick and unable to login to the application.

  6. Most workers work full-time on the same platform, and often make below the local hourly minimum wage despite working well over the weekly hour-limits. No platform was able to provide sufficient evidence that workers earn at least the local living wage after work-related costs.

  7. Despite the promise of ‘flexibility’, platform workers’ working lives are closely controlled and monitored by platforms, much like an employer-employee relationship.

  8. The legal landscape of the platform economy is largely unchanged, the report states. Although, a PIL was filed before the Supreme Court of India by the Indian Federation of App-based Transport workers (IFAT), to reclassify platform workers as unorganised workers or employees.

  9. Platform managements are often indifferent to workers’ grievances, according to the report. Faizal, a male Swiggy delivery worker described experiences of Islamophobic abuse, as well as the lack of protection mechanism against discrimination. Workers lacked access to grievance redressal channels in their local language on many platforms, the report states.

  10. Fairwork calls for the institutionalisation and operationalisation of effective anti-discrimination policies, which take measures to desist customers from discriminating, increase trust among workers to lodge complaints and have clear processes for reporting discrimination.

  11. The report points out that the narrative around flexible work is excessively focused on individuals. This can be harmful to worker representation and their collectives. Despite the rise in platform worker collectives across India in 2022, platforms showed a lack of willingness to recognise worker collectives. Thus, no platform was awarded points for meeting the threshold for “fair representation” in the report.

    Focus and Factoids by Neelima Mundayur.