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Bringing workers into ownership of platform companies

Tej Gonza (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
David Ellerman (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership

ISSN: 2514-7641

Article publication date: 15 August 2022

Issue publication date: 29 November 2022




In addition to increased regulation and platform co-operatives, this paper proposes a third option to address the problem posed by the labor-based platform (LBP) companies and companies' treatment of de facto employees as “independent contractors,” thus avoiding the usual employee benefits.


The paper outlines the history and structure of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) as a mechanism to achieve partial worker ownership of companies.


The possibility of establishing ESOPs in the local subsidiaries of platform companies is outlined as the third option to reform LBPs.

Practical implications

Whether this option is available in the United States of America is not clear without new litigation or legislation since the existing USA ESOP is for “employees” and the problem is that the LBPs do not classify these platforms' full-time workers as “employees.” Hence, this third option may be mainly relevant to other countries for LBPs that are not already established.


The ESOP approach to changing LBPs is a new suggestion in addition to the usual approaches of increased public regulation and establishing new worker-owned platform co-operatives. The ESOP is a new tool in the hands of municipal and national governments to require in order for the LBPs to be able to operate.



Gonza, T. and Ellerman, D. (2022), "Bringing workers into ownership of platform companies", Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 137-148.



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