The aim of this opinion is to address several issues for workers on digital platforms, mainly in terms of protection from misclassification, algorithmic management and cfreedom of association and collective bargaining;
The ambition of the opinion is to further strengthen the mechanism of the rebuttable presumption of an employment relationship, following the European Commission's proposal;
The opinion also focuses to the need of protecting platform workers from risks stemming from automated monitoring and decision-making systems and algorithmic management and highlights the necessity of a regulatory framework;
Finally, it argues for the removal of obstacles that prohibit platform workers from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
On 14 October 2022, the ministers of labour of 9 Member States (Belgium, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain), wrote a letter to the CZ Presidency asking to make the triggering of the legal presumption of the employment relationship easier - something that was also emphasized in the opinion.
On 25 October 2022, several stakeholders (ETUC, JOC, CECOP, EUROPEAN YOUTH FORUM, SOLIDAR) sent a letter to the European Institutions; they focused mainly on the issue of bogus self-employment and the inadequacy of the presumption of employment dependent on two out of five criteria of subordination being met (in line with the opinion). Furthermore, the letter expressed concern on the voluntary decision to pay for “social protection, accident insurance or other forms of insurance, training measures or similar benefits to self-employed persons working through that platform (…) should not be regarded as determining elements indicating the existence of an employment relationship" - the opinion had introduced an amendment on this recital to ensure that "it should not be used to circumvent the legal presumption or to reintroduce a notion of subordination".
On 12 July 2023 the rapporteur Yonnec Polet was interviewed by Agence Europe about his opinion and his views on the European Parliament's and the Council's positions on the topic. The inteview was titled: "For Committee of Regions, creation of ‘third’ status for digital platform workers must be avoided at all costs".
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- agrees with the Commission's analysis that the misclassification of a worker's status and the consequences of this have an impact beyond the framework of platform work;
- welcomes the mechanism of the rebuttable presumption of an employment relationship and the reversal of the burden of proof provided for in the directive;
- emphasises the importance of the presumption of an employment relationship giving the platform workers concerned access to all the rights derived from legislation or collective agreements that guarantee the status of self-employed person or employee;
- reminds that direction and control, or legal subordination, is an essential element of the definition of an employment relationship in the Member States and in the case-law of the Court of Justice. The criteria listed by the directive each characterise an element of direction and control, just one of which must be sufficient to trigger the presumption that there is an employer, which the employee or the employer may still contest if necessary. At the same time, the list of criteria is not exhaustive;
- welcomes the directive's provisions aimed at protecting platform workers from the risks associated with automated monitoring and decision-making systems and algorithmic management;
- calls on the European Commission to propose a regulatory framework to extend the algorithmic management rights granted to platform workers, both employed and self-employed, to all workers, including outside platform work;
- points out that platform workers are often prevented from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, not least due to the lack of shared means of communication and opportunities to meet online or in person. Appropriate communication channels and access rights for trade unions must therefore be ensured through labour platforms' digital infrastructure;is disappointed that the proposal for a directive makes no reference to local and regional authorities, even though in many Member States, it is sub-national authorities that are responsible for implementing labour legislation and determining the status of workers.