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Analysis on the current status of female labor in the platform industry of Seoul
  • Date : 2021-08-10
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Analysis on the current status of female labor in the platform industry of Seoul

Kuk, Mi-Ae
Research Fellow, Seoul Foundation of Women & Family

Kim, Do-Hyun
Won, Hyebin
Researcher, Seoul Foundation of Women & Family


With growth of 'platform economy', where labor and service are provided by platforms, Seoul Metropolitan Government expects increase in labor force in the platform economy and is trying to come up with policy support. It is highlighted that workers in the platform economy are protected by social safety net since they are categorized as not self-employed business owner, not a wage earner. This study intended to identify current status of jobs mainly occupied by women in the platform industry and set up a policy directions that supports changing employment relationship. To this end, current status of two jobs were researched: one is ‘housework service’ as a ‘local-based platform labor’ and the other is ‘webtoon/webnovel creator’ as an ‘web-based platform labor’. Four items of 1) income-earning activities, 2) contract and level of social security, 3) labor process and experience and 4) job prospect and policy demand were analyzed.

Based on the result of the analysis, 'to establish proper standards of labor, 'to guarantee fair contract' and 'to expand social protection', etc. were defined as policy directions and related policy were suggested.

First, appropriate standards of labor should be established. In both areas of housework service and webtoon/webnovel creation, both proper amount of labor and proper level of compensation were not defined. The direction, however, should be set separately for each job. In the housework service, appropriate amount of labor should be determined first since level of income is low due to excessively low amount of labor. On the contrary, webtoon/webnovel creators are not compensated properly even though they are working excessively. Therefore, protection measures should be put in place to prevent their overwork.

Second, level of fairness of the contract should be enhanced and any modification of the contract should require consent from service provider or creator. Even though pricing and controlling of the service or creative work is mostly determined by platform operators, they do not fulfill their responsibility and comply with their obligation required. Regardless of whether platform workers have employed worker’s status and platform operators have employer’s status pursuant to Labor Act, platform operators should be given accountability to minimize unfair contract or unfair treatment, as an operating party with authority to design and control a platform. Therefore, using a standard contract format and reaching an agreement in case of revision to the contract should be introduced. ‘Rule of concluding fair contract of the platform industry’ should be put in place as well. Improvement is also needed so that multi-dimensional evaluation can be conducted, beyond a current evaluation where only service provider or creator is evaluated.

Third, social protection system embracing ‘workers’ is required. Current social security system including social insurance is provided based on protective system with status of employer and employee as a prerequisite. Number of workers not included in this category is increasing more and more. However, modification of social security system to the one based on the status of “those who work” is not just an issue of expanding people subject to this system. The current operational principle presupposing workers’ contribution and employers’ responsibility should be fundamentally revamped. Furthermore, it is urgently required that a measure controlling expressions of gender-discrimination, defamation and depreciation of certain occupation which are displayed and expanded in the platform. This requires rule of ethics to be provided with an intention to secure gender equality and labor-human rights of service users.

*Key words: housework service, webtoon/webnovel creation, platform labor, fair trade, standard contract