Does Customer Feedback affect the Gig Economy? – An Analysis

The ‘gig economy’ has been criticized for flouting labour regulations all around the world. The popularity of temporary and mobile occupations, as well as businesses that hire autonomous subcontractors and freelancers rather than full-time employees, define the gig economy. The outmoded framework of people employed full time, who very rarely switch professions and instead focus on a profession that they would indulge in for a long period, undermines such an economic framework. Smart phone applications, that prove to be a conduit for ‘gig–worker’ services, are primarily in charge of this system. The operator or courier person, for instance, is often alluded to as a “gig worker” on internet channels like Swiggy, Uber, or Amazon because they are at the base of the manufacturing line.

While the “Code on Social Security, 2020″ [“Code”] acknowledges the notion of “gig workers,” it describes them as “persons who work, or engage in a collective agreement, and earn money from such activities outside of the typical employment contracts.” In addition, the Code recognizes the concept of ‘platform workers,’ or people who work for an online platform. Platform employees are a subcategory of gig workers, according to the Code. A Public Interest Litigation was also filed at the Supreme Court of India by Indira Jaisingh on similar lines following which the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre. The notice asked the Centre to include gig workers under the category of unorganised workers and grant social security benefits to them.

While concerns about whether these people are independent contractors or employees have ignited global debate, the new employee-customer interactions appear to have gone unnoticed. In today’s market, consumers are generally offered the choice of rating the services they obtained from workers they hired through an internet medium. The ‘over–subordination’ of workers is one of the most significant changes in the labour regime. It is important to note that, rather than being pushed by employers, this over-subordination is now driven by customers. As a result, in a gig economy, consumers should shoulder partial obligation for labour rights because they are the ones who are in immediate communication with labourers.

Gig Economy and Employment

Crowdwork and work-on-demand via mobile or computer applications are the two types of employment or work within the gig economy. Work is done through online channels in Crowdwork, which connect an infinite number of institutions, companies, enterprises, workplaces and people over the web, allowing customers and employees to connect globally. The types of tasks that can be completed utilising this medium are numerous. In the event of work on demand, traditional or common services such as cooking, cleaning, , washing and driving are provided to consumers on a one-time basis through mobile applications. The companies that run these apps are typically involved in establishing fundamental service standards, as well as choosing and managing people.

The gig economy is defined by the supply of services at a breakneck pace. The transaction costs are significantly reduced while using the internet. As a result, the possibility for anybody from anyplace throughout the globe to enrol someone else has enabled a level of flexibility previously unimaginable in the old business paradigm. The “pay-as-you-go” model, on the other hand, has created an opportunity to consider manpower as a good or service. A risk would be that in this type of economy, these acts aren’t even considered labour. They are sometimes referred to as “gigs,” “rides,” and other terms that contribute to their commercialization

Consumer feedbacks vis-à-vis labour market

Platforms or facilitators wield a lot of power over workers in the gig economy. These platforms can keep track of a worker’s performance in real time, based on client evaluations and feedback. Rather than passive matchmaking, such grading systems guarantee that the employee strictly adheres to all corporate regulations and client directions. In reality, when workers obtain lower evaluations, these ratings are frequently utilised to dismiss them from the site.

When you look closely, you’ll notice that the firm doesn’t have much power; rather, the consumer is the centre of the control. Such online web platforms operate on the basis of a “online reputation”, that is important for guiding the hiring procedure and ensuring the system’s seamless operation. As a result, the only way to control labour is to use data supplied by customers.

Because the current framework is organically established on the “pay as you go” principle, the challenges linked with the gig economy cannot be handled by adopting minimal pay rules. Furthermore, outlawing the gig economy is impractical since undoubtedly, the gig economy has brought down trading expenses and given those in need access to labour. It has, in fact, rendered our existence simpler and highly effective. As a consequence, we genuinely think the gig economy holds the key to solving this employment legal problem.

Consumer Satisfaction Polls and Foundation for Employee Satisfaction

One approach to safeguard gig workers might be to rectify the power disparity amongst consumers and staff. Constructing a large-scale consumer recommendation network might help with this. Uber and eBay, for example, have already adopted this, allowing employees to assess and review their customers after they’ve used the service. In 2008, the Turkopticon project offered a more extensive customer rating system. In fact, companies such as Uber have begun disabling the accounts of consumers who have received exceptionally low ratings from their drivers.

While the concept looks simple, the use of customer feedback in the development of labour regulations has the potential to be transformative. This is due to the fact that, despite being a significant stakeholder, the customer has been largely ignored in the development of labour laws. In fact, the disappearance of corporate control and the emergence of the customer have gone totally unrecognised in the evolution of labour law. As a result, it is critical to improve customer-worker relationships and interactions. While negative feedback can lead to emotional tiredness, good feedback has been shown to invigorate employees and buffer negative feedback. As a result, customers are also enablers of happy employees. A worker’s level of satisfaction has a direct impact on his capacity to stay in a job for extended periods of time and raise his output.

As a consequence, a scale similar to the “Work-related Basic Need Satisfaction” scale might be developed to analyse the relationship between consumers and workers, which is used to capture worker satisfaction. Consumers and staff would indeed be offered a number of inquiries, and they might be questioned regarding their sentiments concerning the opposing party.

Way Forward and Conclusive Remarks

Following an examination of how the gig economy has moved authority from companies to end clients, leading to over subordination of gig workers, new labour legislations are required to meet the market’s changing needs. A welfare state, like India (it defines itself as a welfare state under the Constitution’s IVth Chapter of Directive Principles of State Policy) sees itself clearly going against its welfare nature in terms of the ill treatment of the gig workers as discussed above.  New labour legislations are required to meet the market’s changing needs. In such recommendations, the centre of labour legislation is understood to be the good health of the economy’s disadvantaged gig workers. In this post, the author will try to divide this accountability amongst staff and consumers.

To begin with, in every situation where consumers are asked to grade the workers’ services, the employers must keep track of the negative feedback they receive. Consumers must be invited to provide a modest feedback if they are truly unsatisfied with the kind of service provided to them, as it is impossible to judge staff using basic 5-point evaluations.

Second, certain businesses, such as Turkopticon and Uber, have already offered their personnel the power to rate their consumers. We believe that the government must make it a requirement for all such websites to have a system in place that allows personnel to rate clients. This would end up serving three main purposes: initially, When staff come across such a consumer that displays uncommon conduct, that could offer emotional fulfilment by enabling them to evaluate and analyse the consumer; second, As a consequence of the preceding argument, we could see how this could ultimately contribute to the development of a mind-set of excellent consumer conduct towards employees; and finally, it will help the company to recognize consumers who are offering constructive feedback.

Finally, the State can compel enterprises to conduct need satisfaction surveys. The customer and employee satisfaction survey allows us to determine the true requirements and expectations of both, consumers and employees. Direct engagement with consumers will indicate what one is doing efficiently and what is possibly going wrong. A consumer satisfaction measure records a period in time. People’s opinions vary with time, and firms’ effectiveness in achieving user satisfaction fluctuates as well. Hence, the customer satisfaction must be measured on a regular basis. Further, just conducting such survey is not enough. One also must act on the data collected through the research.

All of these solutions are aimed at bridging the power imbalance between staff and customers. The goal is to eliminate the notion that customers are kings of the market and instead, establish a more balanced environment in which workers’ well-being can be considered, particularly in the gig economy. Keep in mind that the aim of labour law is to protect the worker while deciding on the content of labour law in the gig economy. According to this viewpoint, the source of exploitation is immaterial, i.e., whereas traditional labour was governed by employer needs, gig labour is governed by client desires. Cross-surveys of workers and consumers based on needs could aid in determining what should be deemed minimum rights for gig workers.

Saraz Azad, Second Year BALLB student at School of Law, Narse Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore.

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