The Joint Research Centre (JRC) requested CEPS to conduct an analysis of an online labour platform in the field of personal services. The study was contracted by the EU Policy Lab in the context of the foresight project “A vision for the EU ‘sharing economy’ – Exploring future economic transformations”. CEPS analysed the ListMinut platform which was founded in Belgium in 2012 and provides a wide range of services in Belgium and facilitates peer to peer interaction to find help, for instance, with gardening, babysitting, shopping, pet sitting, housework.
The study focused on the Belgian case, even if the platform also operates in other countries in- and outside of the EU. It provides a unique snapshot of the dynamics in the digital market for locally provided personal services. The report is available as De Groen et al. (2016) and it titled “The Digital Market for Local Services: A one-night stand for workers? An example from the on-demand economy”.
CEPS obtained data on the demand and supply of labour on the platform, presenting further details on the demographics of workers active on the platform and on the average income that workers earn (which was then compared with ‘offline’ earnings in similar professions and sectors). This was obtained through web-crawling, i.e. essential information on the workers and the tasks was systematically downloaded from the ListMinut.be website and copied into a database. In total, the database collected information on 14,113 workers and 9,459 tasks posted between 23 December 2013 and 22 December 2015.
The final paper included a review of the related literature covering the impact of the sharing economy on the labour market for personal services, set in the context of wider processes of transformation of lower-skilled employment and with the focus on the situation in the EU. It also included policy recommendations.
The findings suggest that the current intermediation is inefficient. Only a limited share of the tasks posted on the platform are being completed, whereas the characteristics of the not-completed tasks are fairly limited. Moreover, just a small share of the workers participating in the platform is actually performing the completed tasks. Their average earnings per hour are in most cases above the minimum wage and even above the median wage in the offline market. At the present time, however, the limited earnings for individual workers prevent this mode of working from becoming an alternative to a conventional job. In addition to the standard determinants of workers’ earnings (e.g. gender, age, occupation, etc.), the characteristics and evaluation mechanism of the platform have a large influence on the distribution of tasks and earnings.