The Commission needs to get serious about tackling new forms of undeclared work

The gig economy needs to grow up and meet its responsibilities to workers and society by turning undeclared work into declared work, and the European Commission needs to help online platforms to do so warned the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), together with UNI Europa, the European Services Workers Union.

The gig economy sounds cool but in reality many of these jobs just offer a fast route back to the problems faced by piece workers and day labourers of 100 years ago” said Esther Lynch, ETUC Confederal Secretary, “and the problems don’t stop there, on-line platforms have the effect, if not the explicit intent, of disguising the employment relationship along with facilitating avoidance of social security and tax obligationsWorkers in the gig economy are grown up professionals delivering an excellent service, unfortunately the same can’t always be said of their platforms that employ them."

The European Commission must stop giving an alibi for these arrangements and instead to be clear that on-line platform workers are entitled to their rights as much as other workers.”

The EU’s newly set up ‘Platform on Undeclared Work’, bringing together member states, the Commission and social partners, will be meeting in October -  an ideal opportunity to improve cross-border enforcement of workers’ rights making sure employers live up to their responsibilities and ensure that workers in Europe do not lose out when using various on-line job arrangements.  

This means taking steps so that:

  • online platforms do not deny the existence of the employment relationship;
  • it is clear that the place of work is where the worker carries out the work,
  • online platforms make the relevant payments to the tax and social security authorities in the right Member State;
  • workers are informed of their terms and conditions, including the name of the employer;
  • unacceptable and unlawful practices such as charging workers a percentage of their wage, payments in kind, making deductions from wages as punishments are not tolerated;
  • labour inspectorates have the right tools to investigate abuses of on-line workers;
  • workers can enforce their rights cross border including, for example, joint and several liability in the case of non-payment for work;
  • workers can organise in a trade union and collectively bargain.

The Undeclared Work Platform can be an important tool for the EU to win back the trust of workers and citizens,” said Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary and together with Esther Lynch leading the trade union side on the platform. “We need an EU commitment that all workers, online and offline, have the same rights – to decent pay and decent working conditions as well as a high level of social protection. This must apply regardless of their employment status or the type of their contract, regardless of the sector they work in. Workers are workers are workers. Full stop.”