Brussels, 15 June 2021
”Digital labour platforms play a key role in the digital transition of the European economy. Online just as offline, people should be protected and allowed to work safely and with dignity. We will now get the social partners’ views on how to ensure that work through platforms has decent working conditions, while supporting the sustainable growth of digital labour platforms in the EU.”
Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said:
“Online platforms bring innovation and new services to consumers. But they must also offer those people working through them the high level of social standards that we expect. We continue our consultation with social partners to find a smart, balanced approach that provides certainty and common standards to platforms and those working through them. Like this, we will ensure the digital transition is fair and sustainable.”
Digital labour platforms play a key role in the digital transition of the European economy and are a growing phenomenon. The size of the digital labour platform economy in the EU has grown almost fivefold from an estimated €3 billion in 2016 to about €14 billion in 2020. Digital labour platforms bring innovation, create jobs and enhance the EU’s competitiveness. They provide additional income to people, including to those whose access to the labour markets may be more difficult.
Yet, platform work may also result in precarious working conditions and inadequate access to social protection for many people working through platforms. The key challenge in platform work relates to employment status. It is a key determinant of the access of people working through platforms to existing labour rights and protection. Moreover, people working through platforms can be subject to automated decisions made by algorithms without a possibility to question the decision and seek redress. They also often have limited access to collective representation and bargaining. Finally there are also challenges related to the cross-border nature of platform work and the possibility to trace in which country work is performed.
In light of these challenges, the aim of the second-stage consultation is to get the social partners’ views on how to ensure that people working through platforms have decent working conditions, while supporting the sustainable growth of digital labour platforms in the EU. Social partners will be consulted on a possible content of the EU-level initiative, in areas such as:
- facilitating employment status classification and access to labour and social protection rights;
- improving information, consultation and redress, notably when it comes to the use of algorithmic management in platform work;
- providing clarity on applicable rules for all people working through platforms operating across borders;
- strengthening enforcement, collective representation and social dialogue.
The consultation also asks for social partners’ views on possible instruments for EU action. The Commission is considering both legislative and non-legislative instruments.
Social partners are invited to respond to the questions in the consultation by 15 September 2021.
The next step to this second-stage consultation is either negotiations between social partners with a view to concluding an agreement under Article 155 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) or the presentation of a proposal by the European Commission by the end of 2021.
A possible EU initiative would be designed in full respect of national competence, the diversity of labour market traditions in Member States, and the autonomy of social partners. Any initiative on platform work should respect national definitions of ‘worker’. There is also no intention to create a ‘third’ employment status (neither self-employed, nor worker) at EU level, while respecting the choice made by some Member States to introduce it in their national legislation.
BackgroundIn her Political Guidelines, President von der Leyen stressed that “digital transformation brings fast change that affects our labour markets”. She undertook the commitment to “look at ways of improving the labour conditions of platform workers”.
The Communication A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions noted that the sustainable growth of the platform economy requires improved working conditions of platform workers.
The Commission Work Programme 2021 (PDF) announced a legislative initiative on improving the working conditions of platform workers by the end of 2021. This initiative will support the implementation of principles contained in the European Pillar of Social Rights. The commitment by all partners to a strong social Europe was renewed at the Porto Social Summit 7-8 May 2021.
The Commission’s first-stage consultation of social partners on how to improve the working conditions for people working through digital labour platforms was open from 24 February to 7 April 2021.
After considering the replies, the Commission has concluded that there is a need for EU action. Therefore, the Commission is now launching the second-stage consultation of the social partners, representing trade unions and employers’ associations at EU level, in accordance with Article 154(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
This consultation does not address the issue of the applicability of EU competition law to collective bargaining by self-employed. This issue is tackled through a separate but complementary initiative, for which an Open Public Consultation closed on 31 May 2021. The purpose of the latter is to ensure that EU competition law does not stand in the way of collective agreements that aim to improve the working conditions of self-employed in a weak position, while guaranteeing that consumers and SMEs continue to benefit from competitive prices and innovative business models, including in the digital economy.
For More Information
- Second-stage consultation of social partners on improving the working conditions in platform work
- Staff Working Document accompanying the consultation document
- First-stage consultation of social partners on improving the working conditions in platform work
- Latest information on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan