Commoditized workers: Case study research on labor law issues arising from a set of 'on-demand/gig economy' platforms

In the framework of the so-called “sharing economy”, the number of on-demand companies matching labour supply and demand is on the rise. These schemes may enlarge opportunities for people willing to find a job or to top up their salaries. Despite the upsides of creating new peer marketplaces, these platforms may also be used to circumvent employment regulation, by operating informally in traditionally regulated markets. This paper will present a case study analysis of several “on-demand work” platforms, starting from the Amazon Mechanical Turk, one of the first schemes founded in 2005, which is arguably “employing humans-as-a-service”. After having signed up and worked within some platforms, I comment upon TaskRabbit (thousands people on the service who bid to do simple manual tasks), Handy and Wonolo (personal assistance at a local level), oDesk and Freelancer (online staffing), Uber and Lyft (peer-to-peer ridesharing), Airbnb (hosting service), InnoCentive (engineering solutions), Axiom (legal research or service), BitWine (consultancy). Finally I highlight downsides and upsides of work in these platforms by studying terms of service or participation agreements to which both parties have to agree.

Aloisi, A. (2015), ‘Commoditized workers. Case study research on labour law issues arising from a set of “on-demand/gig economy” platforms’, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, 37(3).


  • Amazon Mechanical Turk, TaskRabbit, Handy, Wonolo, Upwork, Uber, Lyft, InnoCentive, Axiom
  • professional services, household tasks
  • Online contestant specialist work, Online moderately skilled click work, Online client-determined specialist work, On-location client-determined moderately skilled work
  • Other
  • 2015
  • Research publication, Case study-worker
  • income, autonomy, flexibility and control, worker demographics, employment status
  • English
  • Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal (Publisher)
  • Qualitative research
  • Subscription
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