A Global System of Work, A Global System of Regulation?: Crowdwork and Conflicts of Law
On-demand platforms are changing and reshaping our conceptions of both the firm and the work relationship in far-reaching and critical ways, allowing companies to hire workers and to seek customers across national boundaries. Confronted with low pay, wage theft, and other problematic working conditions, gig workers around the world have turned to the courts, attempting to invoke the protections of traditional labor and employment law. While some commentators believe existing forms of labor and employment regulations can stretch to cover on-demand work, others have called for new legal initiatives specifically crafted for online platforms. The goal of this paper is to provide a global framework for thinking about the on-demand business model and these assorted conflicts of law and jurisdictional issues. The Maritime Labor Convention is discussed as an analogous regulatory scheme. Throughout, the paper emphasizes the need for further coordinated multilateral study, discussion, and regulatory action to assist both crowdworkers and businesses as they navigate the on-demand model of production.