10 December 2019
Platform economy: Protection of workers’ rights must come first!

Platform economy: Protection of workers’ rights must come first!

Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

Over the last years, the number of people employed in the platform economy has considerably increased and more and more people across Europe, especially young people, are finding work on digital platforms. Platform work brings a number of opportunities to the labour market because it is easily accessible and flexible.  However, as confirmed by a recent Eurofound report, due to the specific working arrangements for platform workers, there is higher uncertainty regarding the rights and level of social protection, working conditions and stability of employment.

During the December plenary session, PES Group members raised these concerns with Nicolas Schmit, newly appointed European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, who emphasised in his speech: “The new Commission’s agenda strives to address the ongoing challenges and opportunities posed by the new world of work, globalisation, and digitalisation. We need to make sure that all Europeans can benefit during these transitions, especially when it comes to their jobs and livelihoods.”

Embracing technological change must go hand in hand with guaranteeing social protection and social rights. This is the main message of the opinion of PES Group member Dimitrios Birmpas, Municipal Councilor of Egaleo (Greece), which was adopted right after the debate.

 “If well regulated, platforms can contribute to the local economy and local development. However, there are multiple legal challenges arising from ongoing technological changes on the labour market. This is why we urgently need to strengthen the rights of platform workers across Europe through a clear regulatory framework at EU level. Platform workers deserve the same rights and good working conditions as offline workers. We must make sure that digital platforms respect fundamental labour and social regulations  instead of promoting precariousness, exacerbating wage differences and increasing inequalities. Everyone should benefit from digitalisation, but we need to regulate the social effects of the Digital Single Market at European level”, he emphasised.



His opinion sets out a series of key requests, including:  

  • Effectively addressing, through a clear European regulatory framework,  the frequent false self-employment status of platform workers and its negative consequences on working hours, salaries, employment regulations, access to social protection, fiscal obligations, access to lifelong trainings and workers' organisation;
  • Clarifying regulatory issues such as the burden of documentary proof of an employment relationship  and the evaluation of the presumption of the existence of an employment relationship;
  • In order to enable the Posting of Workers Directive to apply, distinguishing between the "place of employment" and the "place of service delivery";
  • Calling for the CoR to be granted an observer status within the EU Observatory on the Online Platform Economy;

Last but not least, urging local and regional authorities to play their part by incorporating social criteria regarding platform-working conditions into the criteria for awarding public contracts.



Photo credit: Unsplash/Ross Sneddon