Algorithmic Management, Employment, and the Self in Gig Work

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond the Algorithm
Subtitle of host publicationQualitative Insights for Gig Work Regulation
EditorsDeepa Das Acevedo
PublisherCambridge University Press
Chapter6
Pages123-145
ISBN (Electronic)9781108767910
ISBN (Print)9781108487764
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Abstract

This chapter argues that the partial automation of managerial authority should not matter when determining whether platform workers are—or should be treated as—employees or independent contractors under the law. It offers a close reading of an end-user license agreement (EULA) between the on-demand transportation company Uber and its drivers. In particular, the chapter examines the relationship between the EULA and Uber’s use of algorithmic management to design, direct, monitor, evaluate, and compensate drivers’ work. By scrutinizing this relationship through a theory of the “self” implicit in contract law, the chapter shows that the EULA grants Uber rights to direct drivers’ work and determine the principal terms of the agreement as it goes along. This unilateral discretion is difficult to reconcile with what the law expects of an enforceable contract. Rather, it resembles the open-ended authority that the law permits an employer over its employees. Uber exercises its extra-contractual discretion through the App. Algorithmic management enables Uber continually to recalibrate its putative bargain with drivers to the company’s advantage. One lesson of this analysis is that decision makers tasked with evaluating the employment status of platform workers should take more seriously the contractual component of being an “independent contractor.”

Research Area(s)

  • Gig economy, Platform economy, Platform work, Qualitative research, Uber, Labour law, employment law, algorithmic management, Automation, Independent contractor

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

Algorithmic Management, Employment, and the Self in Gig Work. / Tomassetti, Julia.

Beyond the Algorithm: Qualitative Insights for Gig Work Regulation. ed. / Deepa Das Acevedo. Cambridge University Press, 2020. p. 123-145.

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review