Fair and equal social protection for riders, drivers and other platform workers

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


In a vote today, MEPs demand people working for digital labour platforms, such as food delivery services, should have the same rights as traditional employees.

Platform workers are often misclassified as self-employed, depriving them of access to social protection and other labour rights. To address this lack of legal certainty, Parliament proposes a reversal of the burden of proof: in case of legal proceedings employers should prove there is no employment relationship, rather than vice versa. MEPs do however oppose the automatic classification of all platform workers; those who are genuinely self-employed should be allowed to remain in that position.

The resolution adopted on Thursday calls for a European framework to guarantee people working for digital labour platforms have the same level of social protection as non-platform workers of the same category. This includes social security contributions, responsibility for health and safety and the right to engage in collective bargaining to negotiate fair terms and conditions.

A safe and healthy working environment

While they acknowledge the opportunities for job creation and increased choice that platform work can bring about, MEPs are concerned about the poor working conditions often faced by these workers. Given the fact that on-location platform workers are often subject to increased health and safety risks, such as road accidents or injury caused by machinery, they should be equipped with adequate personal protective equipment. Those active in transportation and delivery services need to have guaranteed accident insurance, MEPs say.

Transparent algorithms

They also insist that platform workers should be entitled to transparent, non-discriminatory and ethical algorithms. Algorithmic functions such as task assignment, ratings, pricing and deactivation procedures should always be explained in an understandable way and clearly communicated. Workers should have the possibility to challenge decisions made by algorithms and there must always be human oversight of the process.

The resolution was adopted by 524 votes in favour, 39 against and 124 abstentions.

Quote

“Today, Parliament is taking another step towards protecting platform workers. Better access to social protection, improved working conditions, access to collective representation for the self-employed, clarification of their status, and the use of ethical algorithmic management are all issues that urgently need to be addressed at European level. We say yes to digital, but not at the expense of working rights”, says Sylvie Brunet (Renew, FR).

Background

Platform workers are individuals executing work or providing services via a digital labour platform. The current European legislative framework is failing to address the new realities of this type of work, making an update of the regulation necessary. In its Action plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission announced that by the end of this year, it would present a legislative initiative to improve the working conditions of platform workers.

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