New ILO report

Work on digital labour platforms in Ukraine: issues and policy perspectives

Ukraine is a pioneer of the digital revolution, occupying the first place in Europe, and the fourth place in the world in terms of number of workers on digital labour platforms. A new ILO report explains why so many Ukrainians chose digital work, what kind of work conditions they have and how this type of work affects their life and future.

It is estimated that at least 3% of the Ukrainian workforce is involved in online work on over forty different national and international labour platforms. Work on digital labour platforms ranges from computer programming to copywriting and running errands.
A newly issued ILO report, “Work on Digital Labour Platforms in Ukraine: Issues and Policy Perspectives”, provides a portrait of Ukraine-based digital workers, describes their conditions of work, and assesses the consequences that digital work has for them. The study is based on findings from a quantitative survey of 1,000 labour platform workers in Ukraine complemented by in-depth qualitative interviews.  The report shows that digital work carries opportunities for benefitting Ukrainian society, as well as risks. An understanding of such risks is important for creating responses for their management. There is a clear scope for an explicit governmental policy to fully unleash the potential from digital labour platforms for the Ukrainian society, and also to make it sustainable, the report says.

The report contains the following key findings:

1.    Ukrainian digital workers are generally young and have a high level of formal education. One out of four workers on digital labour platforms rely on this work as their main source of income.
2.    The main reason why workers choose online work is to earn additional income. Other reasons include preference to work from home, better pay on the platforms as compared to the offline world, and inability to find work elsewhere.

3.    There is an important gender pay gap in online work. Men earn 2.2 times more than women online. This gap can largely be explained by strong gender segregation by occupations and markets served (national or international).
4.    One out of three survey respondents have experienced non-payment for their online work. Almost of half of these workers believe that the reason for this was clients’ fraud.

5.    The majority of online workers (85%) pay a commission to the platforms to work.

6.    Workers of online platforms describe themselves as “freelancers”. Their relationships with “clients” do not fall under the scope of labour regulation. Yet, it is estimated that nearly a half of digital workers are in the grey zone of dependent self-employment or disguised employment relationship. This is because they either have only one main client, or receive salary-type pay, or experience control over their work by the client, such as requests to be available during certain hours, or having to install special software on their computers to track their working time.

The report is also available in Ukrainian