The European commission has started a consultation on the rights of gig economy workers who obtain work through online platforms. The first stage will consider the need for possible EU action to improve the work conditions of platform work, and the second stage will see concrete proposals formulated and potential legislation introduced. The key issues to be addressed include:
- Employment status;
- Algorithmic management;
- Collective representation
- Access to social protections
According to the Commission, around 11% of the EU workforce (some 24 million people) say they have already provided services through a platform, and most of these people undertake platform work as a secondary or marginal source of income. However, some three million Europeans do platform work as a main job.
The consultation is seeking to preserve platform based working whilst also ensuring that platform workers receive “the same social rights as those in the traditional economy”. However it is very difficult to see how that aspiration can possibly be achieved given that the platform economy has evolved without the incumbent overheads of employing people. If new legislation were to increase the costs of running such platforms many may simply go out of business which would be counter-productive as those platform workers affected would need to find alternative work.