EU Protection for Platform workers

Digital platform workers Council of the Eu infographics

Council of the European Union infographics Digital Platform Workers in the EU

(Update 22 December 2023) The French government has led a coalition of countries to block the deal reached earlier between the Spanish Presidency acting for the Council and a delegation of the European Parliament. EPSU’s General Secretary “This is very disappointing for tens of millions of workers who thought they could look forward to better social protection and working conditions. The French government in particular has no regards for those workers being exploited by unscrupulous employers. “

The Parliament must now hold firm and make sure the interests of workers prevail over the interests of the lobby of the Ubers and Deliveroos...

For the reaction of ETUC

(18 December 2023) Platform workers are often wrongly classified as self-employed. Thus they are deprived of basic rights and social protection. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached agreement on the criteria to recognise platform workers and provide protection and employment rights 13 December 2023. The ETUC stresses that the enforcement at national level will be crucial and requires an increase in the number of labour inspectors. A November 2022 report for Eurofound re-affirms a point made on many occasions by EPSU as we have seen austerity measures impacting on staffing of regulatory authorities. “Although financial allocations for enforcement institutions have increased over the last decade in many Member States, and the number of inspectors increased in half of the countries for which data are available, resources are still only partially adequate for effective enforcement activities in many countries. More financial resources and trained staff are necessary to improve the labour inspectorates’ capacity to respond to recent labour market trends and risks.”

ETUC stresses that the compromise includes:

  • A reversal of the burden of proof, which means platforms now have to prove that there is no employment relationship.
  • Inspections in the workplace that will be obligatory in case of one reclassification - meaning if one worker goes through the procedure, the authorities will have to assess their colleagues’ situations.
  • Transparency over the algorithms that have been used by platform companies to set and regulate work. These have been used to punish workers who have taken part in legal trade union activity.
  • A central role for trade unions and collective bargaining in the evolving platform economy.

Know examples of platform workers include delivery riders and taxi drivers. We see increasingly carers being forced into false self-employment in order to avoid paying holiday pay, sick pay or social security.

For the ETUC position

Parliament in its statement stresses amongst others:

That the directive established the first ever EU-rules on algorithmic management in the workplace; that a presumption of an employment relationship triggered by two out of five indicators and that workers cannot be dismissed by automated systems. Parliament states that Platform workers “do not have access to information on how the algorithms work and how their behaviour affects decisions taken by automated systems. With the new rules, platforms will provide this information to workers and their representatives.”  The Parliament says that with the new rules, “platforms will be prohibited from taking certain important decisions, such as dismissals and decisions to suspend an account, without human oversight. The text also ensures more human oversight on the decisions of systems that directly affect the persons performing platform work.”

The Council position stresses amongst others: workers will be legally presumed to be employees of a digital platform (as opposed to self-employed) if their relationship with the platform fulfils at least two out of five indicators set out in the directive. These indicators include:

  • upper limits on the amount of money workers can receive
  • supervision of their performance, including by electronic means
  • control over the distribution or allocation of tasks
  • control over working conditions and restrictions on choosing working hours
  • restrictions on their freedom to organise their work and rules on their appearance or conduct

According to the agreed text, member states may add further indicators to this list as a matter of national law.”

In cases where the legal presumption applies, it will be up to the digital platform to demonstrate that no employment relationship exists according to national law and practice.”

Council stresses that the deal with Parliament includes rules that “prevent digital labour platforms from processing certain kinds of personal data by means of automated monitoring or decision-making systems. Such data will include:

  • personal data on the emotional or psychological state of platform workers
  • data related to private conversations
  • data to predict actual or potential trade union activity
  • data used to infer a worker’s racial or ethnic origin, migration status, political opinions, religious beliefs or health status
  • biometric data, other than data used for authentication

A useful background on Platform work and links with other Directives of the Council.