EU cities and regions call on the European Commission to strengthen the criteria for defining the employment status of digital platform workers in order to improve their working conditions. In an opinion drafted by Yonnec Polet (BE/PES), First Deputy Mayor of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, the European Committee of the Regions also voices its concern about the use of algorithms and stresses that workers must always have the right to a decision taken by a human manager or supervisor. The opinion was adopted by the plenary session on 29 June.
Of the more than 28 million people in Europe working through digital
platforms, many are currently classified as self-employed. The Committee
therefore welcomes the rebuttable presumption of employment relationship
and the reversal of the burden of proof provided for in the
proposal for a directive, presented by the European Commission in December 2021. Nevertheless, it
considers that the criteria indicating that a digital labour platform
controls the performance of work remain too vague, leading to many workers
still falling outside the definition of an employee and not being able to
benefit from the labour rights and social benefits to which they are
According to rapporteur Yonnec Polet, "digital platform
companies deliberately use the legal uncertainty in their favour.
Thanks to the new criteria for triggering the presumption of employer,
millions of platform workers will see their situation improve as their
employment status changes to employees, giving them access to the same
social rights as other workers. Moreover, we must be vigilant with
regard to the purely algorithmic management of human resources.
Platform workers have the right to a human interlocutor with regard to
important decisions affecting their status and working conditions.”
The European Parliament's rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini (IT/S&D), who intervened at the
plenary session, said: "
Our shared goal is to ensure that the directive presented by the
European Commission on platform workers is as effective as possible in
achieving three main goals. Firstly, it is important to properly
classify people performing platform work among two main categories:
subordinate employment relationships and true self-employment. Ending
false self-employment also helps ensure fair competition between
traditional businesses and platforms, guaranteeing a homogenous playing
field for all employers. Thirdly, the management of algorithms needs to
be fair and transparent."
As pointed out
in the Committee’s opinion, digital labour platforms act like employers when they control certain
aspects of the performance of work and a relationship of subordination is
established. Of the criteria proposed by the Commission, only one — instead
of two — should therefore be sufficient to trigger the presumption of an
employer-employee relationship. In addition, the list should be
supplemented by other criteria which take into account actions to determine
or limit the price of a service, to make the award of future work offers
conditional on acceptance of tasks or the worker’s availability, or to
limit the capacity of a worker to enter into a commercial relationship with
his or her client. There should also be room for a stricter interpretation
by the competent authorities at national level.
Secondly, digital labour platforms should be required to disclose the
detailed functioning of their automated monitoring and decision-making
systems, as well as algorithms related to working conditions. The Committee
stresses that platform workers must always have the right to a decision
taken by a human manager or supervisor when it comes to the suspension or
termination of the contract, the remuneration of work, the contractual
status of the worker or other measures with similar effects. It is also
necessary to ensure the portability of workers’ data for professional
development purposes, while guaranteeing their right to be forgotten and to
The opinion of Mr Polet also calls for guidance for digital labour
platforms and persons performing platform work to ensure the correct
identification of the sector of activity to which they are linked, in order
to enable the full implementation of applicable legislation and collective
agreements in this sector. In this process, he recalled the crucial role of
trade unions in defending workers’ rights. It is also essential to ensure
that the law enforcement authorities are adequately staffed and trained.
The rapporteur concludes that cities and regions have a role to play in
protecting digital platform workers.
“It is the sub-national authorities that are responsible for
implementing labour legislation and determining the status of workers
in many Member States. Not only must local and regional authorities be
involved in improving working conditions through a platform, but they
also need support and training to strengthen their skills in this area"
, Mr Polet stresses.
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