Council platform proposals won’t help workers

EU ministers made an important step towards the next phase of negotiations on the better regulation of platform work when they agreed the European Council’s position on the directive on platform work.

But improvements are needed because:

  • Workers will need to fulfil three of seven criteria in order to be reclassified as employed – meaning there would be no ‘right to employment’.
  • Genuine self-employed workers will be subject to the unilateral decision by the digital labour platform on their tariffs and the restriction on the possibility of building their own client base.
  • National derogations requested by Member States set a dangerous precedent that can easily result in the loophole allowing platforms to avoid their responsibilities towards workers.

These positions contradict the European Commission’s objective for workers to have a right to be reclassified as an employee and the European Parliament’s opposition to the use of criteria.

ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:

“Platform workers can’t wait any longer for their rights so it is positive that, after a number of delays at Council level, progress can now be made towards a directive which improves their working conditions. 

“For too long, platform companies run by multimillionaires have been using loopholes in the law to escape their most basic obligations to their workforce and society.

“However, the position adopted by the Council today would prevent workers from finally receiving their right to earn at least the minimum wage, sick pay, holiday pay and social security access.

“You only need to look at the recent law passed in Belgium, which follows the spirit of the EU proposal and includes a reclassification system based on workers fulfilling certain criteria, to see this has not yet led to an improvement in working conditions in practice.

“The Council’s position also risks taking away independence from genuinely self-employed workers who want to retain that status.

“We hope that the trialogue negotiations, with a strong position on the part of the European Parliament, will start quickly and produce a directive which will give workers a genuine right to employed status.”