EU fails to reach agreement on digital platform workers' rights

EU bill on digital platform workers Visitors: 62 ★★★★

In December 2023, several European Union (EU) countries rejected legislation negotiated with the European Parliament to strengthen the rights of workers on digital platforms. This development came as a surprise to many, as the agreement between co-legislators was heralded as a major social achievement.

The bill would have reclassified as workers many people working on apps such as Uber or Deliveroo who are currently considered self-employed. This would have meant that platforms would have had to comply with labor law obligations, including minimum wages, working hours, sick pay, safety standards, etc.

The Spanish Presidency of the EU Council, which is coordinating the 27 member states' discussions until the end of the year, announced that the necessary majority could not be reached at the end of the meeting of member states' ambassadors in Brussels. The support of fifteen of the twenty-seven member states, representing 65% of the EU population, is needed. In addition to France, several countries criticized the text, including Italy, Finland, Greece, Hungary and Sweden.

French Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt explained that Paris considers the compromise too far from the position adopted by the Council in June, especially on the issue of "requalification", which would be too automatic and would lead to a lot of controversy. "When you move towards a directive that would allow a massive reclassification, including self-employed workers who insist on their self-employed status, we can't support that", he said during government question hour in the Senate.

New talks

On December 13, it was announced that a political agreement had been reached between co-legislators. The text must now be renegotiated. The Belgian Presidency, which will start in January, will have to determine how to reach a new compromise with MEPs. "I have full confidence that the Belgian Presidency will bring this very important matter to a successful conclusion", said Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Social Rights, who initiated the draft regulation.

While the 27 member states have very different rules on platforms, the new legislation aims to establish identical rules at EU level to determine whether food delivery drivers or VTC drivers operating on large digital platforms should be considered employees.

In the submitted text, a number of criteria are outlined: the platform sets remuneration levels, controls services remotely, does not allow its employees to choose their working hours or refuse assignments, requires them to wear uniforms or prohibits them from working for other companies. If at least two of these criteria are met, the platform will be "deemed" to be an employer and will have to comply with the labor law obligations established by the relevant country.

Conclusion

The rejection of the Digital Platform Workers Bill is a setback for efforts to strengthen workers' rights in this area. However, it does not mean that these efforts will cease. It is likely that new attempts to enact similar legislation will be made in the future.

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