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The European Commission proposal for a Directive on Platform Work ensures fairness to platform workers and gives them protection by clarifying their status as employees

Brussels, 9 December 2021 – With the Proposal for a Directive on improving working conditions in platform work released today, the European Commission recognizes the role that platform workers play in the European economy and the labour market by reclassifying them as employees and granting them the rights they deserve.

Representing many vulnerable workers who rely on their income through services provided by digital platforms such as food delivery riders, domestic workers, restaurant workers and farm workers, EFFAT is pleased to see the European Commission taking on board some of the long-standing trade unions demands and positively welcomes:

A clear reference to the rebuttable presumption of the employment relationship: A presumption that an employment status applies in digital labour platforms makes it harder for platform companies to exploit legal loopholes to maximize their profits by categorizing all workers as self-employed. The measure will therefore also protect the rights of workers who are genuinely self-employed to remain so (and prevent platform companies from imposing further subordination in the contractual relationship). However, the provision must be further strengthened to avoid fragmented interpretation.

The explicit need for increased transparency on the algorithm: Platform workers’ working conditions are fundamentally affected by algorithmic decisions as to their pay, ranking and ability to receive further work. Improving their transparency is a vital provision to ensure platform workers’ protection. However, EFFAT considers that algorithms must be democratically controlled, and their functioning improved through collective bargaining with trade unions, and information and consultation of workers’ representatives.

EFFAT identifies some evident shortcomings of the directive, including:

Unclear reference to trade unions rights: The Directive should strengthen workers and trade union rights, promote collective bargaining in the sector, the right to organise and to access the workplace (including digital), coupling it with a clear requirement for Member States to promote collective bargaining between trade unions and platform companies. In all this, national industrial relation systems must be respected.

Unclear protection for migrant platform workers: Given the high percentage of migrant work in the platform economy, the Directive should make the non-relation between workers protection and migration status explicit as to ensure that complain mechanisms, access to justice and/or report on violation rights is as functional as for any other worker.

EFFAT General Secretary Kristjan Bragason said: “Too easily food riders went from being heroes of the pandemic, working nonstop in locked down cities to provide for our meals to be ghost workers, invisible to social security systems, minimum wages, and paid holidays. Today the Commission gives them justice, solving the legal uncertainty and closing those loopholes that platform companies have too long used to dodge their basic obligations to the detriment of workers’ conditions”

In strict collaboration with our affiliates and the along with the European Trade union movement, EFFAT will closely follow the legal development of the Directive to further strengthen protection for platform workers and ensure viable industrial relations in the sector.

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