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Precarious and productive work in the digital economy

Digital platforms have the potential to create benefits for their suppliers or workers as well as their customers, yet there is a heated debate about the character of this work and whether the platforms should be more heavily regulated. Beyond the high-profile global platforms, the technology is contributing to changing patterns of work. Yet the existing framework of employment legislation and public policy more broadly – from minimum wages to benefits and pensions – is structured around the concept of ‘the firm’ as the agent of policy delivery. To reshape policies in order to protect the interests of people as workers as well as consumers, it is important to understand why digital innovators make the choices they do, and therefore how labour market policies can improve working conditions without constraining the productivity and consumer benefits enabled by digital business models.