Legislative initiative on improving the working conditions of platform workers by the end of 2021

The Commission Work Programme 2021 (published in October 2020) 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 (2017), the EU’s compass to achieve better working and living conditions in Europe.

The platform economy is a growing phenomenon, with around 11 % of the EU workforce saying that they have already provided services through a platform.

Platform work contributes to growth and jobs in the EU as it represents new opportunities and lower entry barriers to the labour market.

In her political guidelines (2019-2024), EU President von der Leyen stressed that ‘digital transformation brings fast change that affects our labour markets’. She undertook the commitment to ‘look at ways to improve the labour conditions of platform workers’.

In December 2020, EU employment and social affairs ministers also held a debate on platform work.

First and second phase consultation of social partners

In the light of article 154 TFEU (two-stage consultation of social partners for proposals in the social policy field based on Article 153 TFEU), the Commission has launched a first phase consultation of social partners in February 2021, which was concluded on 7 April 2021. The purpose of the consultation was to invite the views of European trade unions and employers’ organisations on the need and direction of possible EU action to improve the working conditions of people working through digital labour platforms active in the EU. The Commission received replies from 14 EU-wide social partners.

In this first stage consultation of social partners, the Commission has identified the following areas in which improvements may be needed :

  • employment status ;
  • working conditions, including health and safety ;
  • access to adequate social protection ;
  • access to collective representation and bargaining ;
  • cross-border dimension of platform work ;
  • issues related to algorithmic management ;
  • access to training and professional opportunities.

On 15 June 2021, the Commission has launched the second-stage consultation of European social partners seeking social partners’ views on the content of the envisaged EU action on how to improve the working conditions for people working through digital labour platforms. Social partners are 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.

Social partners are invited to respond to the questions in the consultation by 15 September 2021.

Implementation of Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions by 1 August 2022

In parallel, Member States are currently taking initiatives to implement Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union. This Directive was a direct follow-up to the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017.

EU Member States have until 1 August 2022 to transpose the Directive into their national legislation.

As for other Directives in the field of labour law, the Commission set up an Expert Group composed of national experts in order to provide Member States with technical assistance and with a forum for discussing and facilitating the transposition of the Directive. In June 2021, The Expert Group published their report.