As soon as she was appointed President of the Commission in 2019, Ursula von der Leyen warned that she wanted to strengthen social Europe and mentioned the need to take an interest in the case of platforms, such as Uber or Deliveroo, where working conditions depend very largely on an algorithm (we are not talking about marketplaces, social networks or rental sites). On Thursday 9 December, the community executive presented its draft directive to improve working conditions in this growing sector: today, 28 million Europeans work there – in 2025, they should be 43 million – and, in 90% of cases, they have the status of self-employed.
For the time being, few countries have legislated to regulate labor law in this part of the digital economy. And when they did, as in Spain, where meal deliverers must now be employees, they did not adopt a measure that concerns the entire sector. The community executive wants that to change. He proposes that the self-employed, who keep the platforms alive, be granted the status of employee, as soon as the relationship that attaches them to their employer places them in a position of subordination.
“We are proposing clear measures to allow those who are effectively employees to access the social protection to which they are entitled”, Nicolas Schmit, the employment commissioner
For the Commission, a platform “Is presumed to be an employer and its workers are presumed to be employees” if it fulfills two of the following five criteria: it fixes the remuneration, it supervises the work by an electronic means, it imposes on the worker his working hours, it dictates to him the way in which he must behave with the customer, it prevents it to work for another principal.
“A major breakthrough”
Today, Brussels estimates that 5.5 million delivery men and other drivers listed as self-employed are not. The other 22.5 million – for example, translators or coders who are put in contact with their clients through platforms – have a status which indeed corresponds to the practice of their activity. “The platforms can modify their working conditions, so that the freelancers they use are truly independent”, specifies the Commission. They can also (just like their collaborators) challenge in court or before administrative authorities this presumption of wage earning. But the appeal would in no case be suspensive, and it would be up to them to prove that their employees are self-employed.
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