EU confirms agreement on rules to improve working conditions of platform workers

April 04, 2024

On 11 March the Council of the EU confirmed the provisional agreement reached on the Platform Workers Directive (the Directive). The Directive aims to improve the working conditions of those who work on platforms in the gig economy and will also regulate the use of algorithms by digital labour platforms.

Employment protection

The EU suggests that there are more than 28 million people working on digital labour platforms in the EU, sometimes known as “gig economy” workers. One of the key issues regarding these individuals is correctly determining their employment status in order to understand the minimum standards of employment protection to which they are entitled. The agreed text on the Directive means that Member States will establish a legal presumption that will help determine the correct employment status of persons working in digital platforms in their legal systems. The legal presumption will be triggered when facts indicating control and direction are found. People working in the digital platforms, their representatives or national authorities may invoke the legal presumption and claim that they have been misclassified. The burden of proof will be on the digital platform to prove that there is no employment relationship. In addition, Member States will provide guidance to digital platforms and national authorities when the new measures are put in place.

This is a departure from the original drafting which provided that individuals would be presumed to be employees if a certain number of criteria were met. The compromise reached means that the Directive will not outline the conditions to determine employment status; instead this responsibility is given to each EU Member State taking into account national law, collective agreements and EU case law. In the UK there has been a significant amount of case law considering the employment status of such gig economy workers, and while the UK is not bound by the Directive it will be interesting to see how this will impact any UK determinations. In addition, the Labour party in the UK has said that it will consult on its proposal to create a single “worker” status for all but the genuinely self- employed and reviewing the rights available to such workers, potentially increasing the employment protections that gig economy workers may receive.

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