Fair Gig Work in Scotland? A Review of Employment Practices in the Scottish Food Delivery Work

Mendonça, Pedro and Hadjisolomou, Tasos and Kougianou, Nadia (2024) Fair Gig Work in Scotland? A Review of Employment Practices in the Scottish Food Delivery Work. Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

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"Fair Work" tackles employment challenges, but Scotland’s report reveals disparities for marginalised groups, worsened by COVID-19. Over five years, crucial indicators show deteriorating progress in flexible working, increased zero-hours contracts, diminished skills utilisation, reduced workplace learning, and declining trade union membership (see Finlay, 2020). Despite a heightened Fair Work focus in Scotland, our research reveals a glaring oversight: the gig economy is neglected in national measures, a significant concern given its acknowledged precarious nature. The platform food delivery sector lacks essential policies, normalising unfair practices and impeding workers’ and migrants’ advancement. Our findings reveal that trade union membership remains remarkably low, with a staggering 88.1% of respondents indicating non-membership. However, an intriguing contrast emerges when examining perceptions, as over 65% of participants view trade unions as important or extremely important for enhancing working conditions. Voicing concerns proves challenging, with over 60% of respondents reporting limited to no opportunity to express their views about work. A mere 0.5% receive responses on working conditions from food delivery companies. Barriers to effective expression include a lack of willingness to hear concerns (57%) and cumbersome technology provided by platform companies (31%). Our report highlights that platform food delivery serves as a crucial opportunity for labour market entry, with 48% selecting it as their primary income source. Migrant workers, comprising a significant portion, face barriers such as qualification recognition, visa constraints, and language proficiency, limiting their chances of moving to more secure employment.