MEPs adopt new rules on platform work after campaign by Cecop

Co-ops are in favour of stricter European regulation on digital labour platforms

The European Parliament has adopted new rules to regulate the platform economy – a sector marked by insecure work which has been subject to labour rights campaigns by the worker and platform co-op movements.

Agreed on by the European Parliament and Council in February, the Platform Work Directive introduces a range of measures to empower platform workers. 

The European confederation of industrial and service co-operatives (Cecop), whose members include platform co-ops, has long campaigned for stricter European regulation on digital labour platforms to ensure a level playing field for its members. 

Under the adopted text, workers on digital labour platforms are presumed to be in an employment relationship with the platforms, as opposed to being self-employed. The directive also obliges EU countries to establish a rebuttable legal presumption of employment at the national level and the burden of proof lies with the platform. This means the platform – rather than the worker – would have the responsibility to prove that they do not employ the worker.

Platforms are also required to ensure human oversight on important decisions that directly affect the persons performing platform work. As such, a person performing platform work cannot be fired or dismissed based on a decision taken by an algorithm or an automated decision-making system.

Related: Platform co-op looks to show a better way forward on AI

The directive also touches on transparency and data protection by forbidding digital labour platforms to process certain types of personal data, such as data on someone’s emotional or psychological state and personal beliefs.

“With this directive, up to 40 million platform workers in the EU will have access to fair labour conditions,” said rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini (S&D, IT). “This historic deal will give them dignity, protection and rights. It will correct bogus self-employment and prevent unfair competition, protect true self-employment, and introduce ground-breaking rules on algorithm management. This will become a real benchmark at the global level. I am proud to say: Europe protects its workers, its social model and its economy.”

The directive, adopted with 554 votes in favour, 56 votes against and 24 abstentions, needs to be formally adopted by the European Council as well. Once approved, it will be published in the Official Journal of the EU, and member states will have two years to incorporate the provisions of the directive into their national legislation.

The EU is home to more than 500 digital labour platforms employing 28 million people.