More than 28 million people work through digital job platforms in the EU. By 2025, their number is expected to reach 43 million people. The vast majority of these people are genuinely self-employed, says the European Commission. However, it is estimated, says Brussels, that there may be as many as 5.5 million are incorrectly considered as self-employed. Between 2016 and 2020, revenue in the platform economy grew nearly five times from $ 3 billion to $ 14 billion.
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"However," says the European Commission, "new forms of work also bring new challenges. It is becoming increasingly difficult to correctly classify people's employment status, which in some cases leads to social protection and labor rights. In addition, the use of algorithms in the work of the platform can raise questions of responsibility and transparency. "
Consequently, the European Commission has proposed this Thursday measures to improve conditions in platform work. "The new rules will ensure that people who work through digital labor platforms can enjoy the labor rights and social benefits to which they are entitled," says Brussels: "They will also receive additional protection as regards the use of management algorithmic (that is, automated systems that support or replace management functions at work) ".
Thus, the Community Executive proposes European standards to "provide greater legal certainty, which will allow digital labor platforms to fully benefit from the economic potential of the single market and equal conditions".
In this way, the European Commission, through a communication, proposes a series of measures on platform work: actions that national authorities, social partners and other relevant actors must take in their respective fields. The objective is also "to lay the foundations with global standards for quality platform work."
Brussels also launches a proposal for a directive on improving working conditions at work on platforms, "which includes measures to correctly determine the employment situation of people who work through digital labor platforms, and new rights for both workers and for the self-employed in terms of algorithmic management ".
In addition, Brussels has launched a draft of guidelines to "clarify the application of EU competition law to the collective agreements of self-employed workers seeking to improve their working conditions, which includes those who work through platforms. digital labor ".
Directive on the improvement of conditions in platform work
The proposed directive seeks to ensure that people who work through digital labor platforms obtain the legal employment status that corresponds to their true labor agreements, and provides a list of control criteria to determine whether the platform is an "employer." If the platform meets at least two of those criteria, you are legally presumed to be an employer.
The people who work through them would therefore enjoy the labor and social rights that the status of "worker" entails.
For those who are reclassified as workers, this means the right to a minimum wage (where it exists), collective bargaining, working time and health protection, the right to paid vacations or better access to protection against accidents at work. , unemployment and sickness benefits, as well as contributory old-age pensions.
The platforms will have the right to challenge or "refute" this classification, with the obligation to demonstrate that there is no employment relationship that falls on them.
"The clear criteria proposed by the Commission will provide platforms with greater legal certainty, reduce litigation costs and facilitate business planning," says Brussels.
"The directive increases transparency in the use of algorithms by digital labor platforms, guarantees human control of respect for working conditions and grants the right to challenge automated decisions. These new rights will be granted to both workers and workers. the self-employed ", explains the European Commission.
National authorities often have difficulties accessing data on platforms and the people working through them. This is even more difficult when platforms operate in multiple Member States, so it is not clear where the platform's work is done and by whom.
"The Commission's proposal will bring more transparency around platforms by clarifying existing obligations to declare work to national authorities and asking platforms to make key information about their activities and people who work available to national authorities. through them ", affirms the Community Executive.
In the Communication on Better Working Conditions, the European Commission "calls on Member States, social partners and all relevant actors to propose concrete measures to improve working conditions at platform work. Its aim is to reap the benefits of digital transformation and protecting the European social market economy. The EU also wants to lead by example and contribute to future global standards for high-quality platform work. The platforms operate cross-border and justify a cross-border regulatory approach. "
European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: "With more and more jobs created by digital job platforms, we must ensure decent working conditions for all those who earn their income from such work. Our proposal for a directive will help the false self-employed who work for platforms to correctly determine their employment status and enjoy all the social rights that it entails. Authentic self-employed persons on the platforms will be protected through greater legal certainty about their status and there will be new safeguards against the problems of employment. algorithmic management. This is an important step towards a more social digital economy. "
The Commissioner for Employment, Nicolas Schmit, said: "We must make the most of the job creation potential of digital platforms. But we must also ensure that they are quality jobs, that do not promote precariousness, so that the people who work they have security in them and can plan their future. The Commission's proposal establishes clear criteria to establish whether a platform is an employer and, if so, its workers have the right to certain social protection and labor rights. Technological progress must be fair. and inclusive, so the proposal also addresses transparency and monitoring of platform algorithms. "
The European Parliament and the Council - the governments - will now debate the Commission's proposal for a directive on improving working conditions in platform work. Once adopted, Member States will have two years to transpose the directive into national law.