EU to regulate work rules on online platforms

  • In December 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal for legislation to improve the situation of workers carrying out work via digital work platforms.
  • There are more than 500 platforms in the European Union, which create 28 million jobs.
  • The proposals are commented on by the Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers.

Work via electronic platforms

The growing popularity of this form of earning money is directly related to ongoing digitization and the increasingly common need for flexibility in employment. A cooperation model adapted to the so-called Platform work is not new, however, and also has its counterparts in “traditional” jobs.

The proposed directive sets out a number of conditions determining whether the existing relationship between the platform and the worker is an employment relationship. For a platform to be considered an employer, the relationship between it and the person performing the work should meet two of the five established criteria. Such legal requirements would result in a change in the form of employment of some independent contractors to employees employed by platforms.

– In our opinion, the introduction of regulations imposing a specific form of cooperation with the platform on “platform workers” is not necessary, and what is more – as our research shows – contrary to the will and to the expectations of the interested parties themselves – evaluates the ZPP.

Restrictions for the self-employed

Flexibility in gainful employment is a particularly valuable value for many people. It is linked, among other things, with the self-regulation of working time by the person performing the work, which is suitable for people who cannot hold a full-time or fixed-time job. Often people who have difficulty entering the labor market decide to use digital platforms. This applies to young people without work experience or people of immigrant origin. Limiting the earning potential of these groups of people, especially in the current environment, would obviously be inadvisable.

Harmful recipes

In early 2022, ZPP conducted a survey of platform employees based on individual interviews. No less than 95% of respondents confirmed their satisfaction with economic activity carried out through online platforms, and the conditions of cooperation with them were described as understandable and fair by 98 and 96% of respondents , respectively. Moreover, despite the low threshold to enter the market, up to 93% of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their own financial situation.

– The main argument of the European Commission for the adoption of the law in question is to strengthen the position of platform employees by strengthening their social protection and access to social benefits on the condition of having a full-time job . However, this objective does not meet the expectations of the workers themselves. Most respondents say they wouldn’t like a law that would require the platform to hire them full-time, the ZPP comment reads.

– It should be noted that the draft directive presented does not avoid unfavorable solutions, the implementation of which would constitute a threat to the development of services based on digital platforms. Objections are raised by the need to apply the provisions of the jurisdiction corresponding territorially to the place of work. In the case of cross-border employment, workers often change their place of residence due to the nature of the work. Taking into account the principle of the Treaty on the free movement of workers, performing online work in a Member State should be considered equivalent in each Member State and its jurisdiction, regardless of the declared place of work – explains ZPP.

The legal presumption of the existence of an employment relationship is naturally unfavorable to the operation of companies. The draft directive leaves Member States free to determine the legal framework. This can lead to very different legal conditions in the Member States, which can create serious obstacles to the uniform functioning of online platforms in the EU market.

– In addition, the possibility of reversing the presumption of the existence of an employment relationship may lead to a large number of disputes which will take time and entail significant administrative costs. This will be a mechanism with a high risk of abuse, and it is therefore to be expected that a high percentage of disputes will have no real basis for its triggering – we read in the ZPP commentary.

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