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EU Platform Work Directive IS Going Ahead

After several years of back and forth, a provisional agreement has finally been reached meaning that the EU Platform Workers Directive will now be going ahead.  The purpose of the directive has always been to protect workers from being exploited by platforms, with employment status being a key feature of the legislation.

Presumption of employee status

The original directive included details of how employment status should be determined, however these could not be agreed upon and have been removed.  Instead each member state within the EU will be responsible for creating their own employment status legislation.  The EU Platform Directive includes a legal presumption of employment status, which is triggered when facts including control and direction are found.  Each member state will then invoke their national laws in determining employment status.

Platform/gig workers within the EU, their representatives, or national authorities may invoke the legal presumption and claim they are misclassified.  Responsibility to disprove the employment relationship will rest with the digital platform.

It is currently estimated that there are more than 5 million platform/gig economy workers who are wrongly categorised as “self-employed” within the European Union.

Algorithmic management

Gig economy platforms often use algorithms to manage their workers, which has occasionally resulted in people being treated unfairly.  The EU directive seeks to protect workers and minimise risks from automated decision-making systems.  Safeguards include:

  • Disallowing certain types of data, e.g. biometric data, racial or ethnic origin, migration status, political opinions, religious or political beliefs, disability or health status;
  • Increased transparency on automated systems and decisions;
  • Humans required to make certain decisions such as restricting, suspending or terminating a worker’s contract or account.

It’s worth noting that this section of the Directive will be applicable to all platform/gig workers, irrespective of whether they are genuinely self-employed or not.

What next?

The directive needs to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and by the Council, and it is hoped that this will happen before the next EU elections in June.  Once the directive is adopted, it will be published in the official journal of the EU and be enforced, starting the clock on the 2 year deadline for member states to transpose it into their national legislation.

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