Ironically, this week’s planned vote in European Parliament on the Platform Work Directive was prevented by workers going on strike, as travel disruption meant that MEPs could not get to and from Strasbourg. It was entirely unrelated to platform working, the general strike took place in France due to plans to raise the pension age.
The EU Platform Work Directive has been fraught with issues from the outset, and there has been a lot of wrangling over the exact detail of the legislation. The original intention is for platform workers (i.e. anyone who obtains their work via an online platform or app) to be presumed a worker in employment law terms, and therefore receive the statutory rights which accompany that status. The workers would also have the right to collectively bargain for better working conditions and fair wages.
The law would not prevent platforms from engaging their workforce on a self-employed basis, providing that they are genuinely self-employed. Draft wording suggests that such self-employed workers would need to be free from “control and direction” of the app engaging them, AND carrying out similar services not via the platform.
Importantly, the plans would also enable workers to have a meaningful say in how their work is mediated by technology, requiring digital platforms to consult with them before introducing changes in automated decision-making that “significantly affect” working conditions. We have previously reported on one such incident which caused workers to be fired through no fault of their own.
Yet the complexity of the plans, and the impact on employment law has seen national delegations greatly divided at the EU Council over the ambition and scope of the legislation. The split is between “those who would rather have a clear and strong legislation” and those who believe sector growth comes first and want to see the legal presumption of worker status gone.
The vote on the EU planned legislation is now scheduled to take place on 1-2 February 2023, and we will keep you informed. Although the UK is not bound by European legislation, it will no doubt come under pressure to adopt similar standards to whatever is agreed.