Socialists commend Commissioner Schmit for action on platform work

09/12/2021

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit unveiling the platform work proposal, 9 December 2021. Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit unveiling the platform work proposal, 9 December 2021. Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service

Online or offline, all workers deserve strong rights and fair working conditions. This is what European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit is delivering through the proposal for a directive on platform work unveiled today.

European socialists and democrats believe that a majority of people working through platforms – apps such as Uber, Deliveroo and others – are actual employees who should enjoy rights and protections, which the platforms are obliged to fulfil.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Defending workers’ rights has always been our political family’s priority. As the economy changes, we must ensure that the rules and regulations adapt too. This means ensuring the rights socialists and democrats have fought for – paid sick leave, paid holidays, fair wages and more – are enjoyed by all workers, including those in new areas such as platform work.

“Commissioner Schmit has put forward a proposal to regulate the sector and ensure labour standards are met in the platform economy too. This is a very welcome move.

“With this proposal, we can ensure Uber drivers and Deliveroo cyclists get a fair wage and social protection. We can ensure they have paid holidays, that they are not exposed to health and safety hazards or have to work whilst ill. With this proposal we can tackle some of the biggest work-related issues facing Europe today.”

Commission Schmit’s proposal for a directive is an important step to confirm in EU law what many courts in Member States have already ruled: most platform workers are employees.

Socialists and democrats have been pushing to close legal loopholes which allow platforms to wrongly categorise workers as self-employed. Disguising employees as self-employed in this way allows platforms to dodge obligations on taxes and social benefits for workers.

Under the Commission’s new proposal, platform workers will be considered as employees of the platform, unless self-employed status can be proved by the platform. This ‘rebuttable assumption’ of employment with a reverse burden of proof is a vital tool to ensure proper rights and conditions are the default for platform workers.

At the same time, it is important to ensure proper oversight and regulation of the algorithmic management used by platforms. Algorithms used as a management tool have a deep impact on working conditions and workers’ rights.

In the build-up to the proposal on platform work unveiled today by Commissioner Schmit, progressives have been leading the fight to safeguard rights for platform workers. Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament put forward many proposals in the report of 16 September 2021 on fair working conditions, rights and social protection for platform workers – new forms of employment linked to digital development (2019/2186(INI)).