February 2024

Battling the Gig Economy

In December 2023, after two years of negotiations, the European Parliament and the Council hammered out a provisional agreement on a proposed directive to improve the working conditions of gig economy workers, the so-called ‘Platform Workers Directive’.

Aiming for Presumption

Its aim is to provide protection for workers employed through platforms such as Uber, Wolt, Glovo, Bolt, and Deliveroo. Currently, the majority of the EU’s 28 million platform workers are formally self-employed, even though most have to abide by many of the same rules and restrictions as employed workers, without the protection that regular employees have. The directive aims to change this through legal presumption of employment.

Presumption of Employment

Under the agreement, workers will be legally presumed to be employees of a digital platform if their relationship with the platform fulfils at least two of the following:

  • upper limits on the amount of money workers can receive
  • supervision of their performance, including by electronic means
  • control over the distribution or allocation of tasks
  • control over working conditions and restrictions on choosing working hours
  • restrictions on their freedom to organise their work and rules on their appearance or conduct

The directive also aims to regulate the use of algorithms for employee management, setting out rules for guaranteeing transparency, supervision and human review of algorithmic decisions regarding employees.

Work in Progress

It is no surprise that big platforms are looking at the proposed changes with great concern, as the proposed changes would require them to revolutionize the organization of their employment structure. Those concerns did not go unheard by some of the EU governments. A strong coalition of 12 Member States spearheaded by France opposed the current version of the directive, effectively blocking it just short of the finishing line. With the June elections to the European Parliament looming over the negotiations, it remains to be seen whether a compromise can be reached.

For more details about the Platform Workers Directive, contact Bartosz Jankowski