In December 2022, European Parliament’s EMPL committee adopted its report on the European Commission’s proposal for a directive improving working conditions in platform work. The report came as a compromise solution after months of intense debates in the European Parliament, and overall it represents a strong step forward towards a more level playing field for businesses and better working conditions for workers.
CECOP’s position on the platform work directive has been previously published here. The main points in the European Parliament’s report which we would like to acknowledge are:
- Recognition of cooperatives: European Parliament’s text includes a recital (not included in the original European Commission’s proposal) saying that “In its 2021 Action Plan for the Social Economy, the Commission has acknowledged the significant economic and social role of social economy entities as an example of participatory-governed businesses which use digital platforms to facilitate citizen engagement and the selling of locally produced goods and services, aiming to achieve better working conditions for their members. Cooperatives could therefore constitute an important instrument for the bottom-up organisation of platform work and could encourage competition between platforms. Member States should protect and promote cooperative undertakings and small businesses by means that aim to safeguard employment and ensure their capacity for sustainable development and growth.”
- Rebuttable presumption of employment: workers who are not free from control and direction of the digital labour platform in connection with the performance of the work, and those who are not working in traditional liberal professions, are assumed to be employees. If a digital labour platform argues that the worker is, nonetheless, self-employed, the burden of proof is on the platform.
- Open definition of workers’ representatives: while the text of the report does not openly mention cooperatives as entities ensuring democratic worker representation, it nonetheless defines workers’ representatives and representatives of persons performing platform work in a way that is inclusive of cooperative business forms.
- Strong provisions on liability across subcontracting chains: the report correctly acknowledges that “the use of subcontracting chains has been used as a way of circumventing the application of labour law to platform workers”, and sets up measures to prevent situations in which platforms manage to avoid their employers’ responsibilities through the use of subcontractors.
- Provisions on transparency, fairness, human oversight, safety and accountability in algorithmic management, including for self-employed workers.
European Parliament’s report represents a significant, progressive step in regulation of platform work. According to European Commission’s estimates, 28 million people in the EU worked through digital labour platforms, and this number will reach 43 million by 2025. Currently, millions of workers are misclassified as self-employed, which deprives them of social protection and labour rights, and undermines honest businesses which do comply with the relevant labour legislation. For cooperative businesses in particular, a stricter European regulation on digital labour platforms is important as a way to ensure level playing field and their competitiveness in the single market.
We call on the Members of the European Parliament to support EMPL committee’s report in the plenary vote.