- First ever EU-rules on algorithmic management in the workplace
- Workers cannot be dismissed by automated systems
- A worker is presumed to be employed when facts indicating control and direction are present
Parliament and Council negotiators reached a provisional deal on Thursday morning on a bill aiming to improve the working conditions of persons performing platform work.
The Platform Work Directive aims to ensure that people performing platform work have their employment status classified correctly and to correct bogus self-employment. The agreed text also introduces the first ever EU rules on algorithmic management and the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace.
The new law introduces a presumption of an employment relationship (as opposed to self-employment) that is triggered when facts indicating control and direction are present, according to national law and collective agreements in place, as well as taking into account the case law of the European Court of Justice.
The directive obliges EU countries to establish a rebuttable legal presumption of employment at national level, aiming to correct the imbalance of power between the platform and the person performing platform work. By establishing an effective presumption, member states will make it easier to correct bogus self-employment.
The burden of proof lies with the platform, meaning that when the platform wants to rebut the presumption, it is up to them to prove that the contractual relationship is not an employment relationship.
New rules on algorithmic management
The new rules make sure that a person performing platform work cannot be fired or dismissed based on a decision taken by an algorithm or an automated decision-making system. Instead, platforms have to ensure human oversight on important decisions that directly affect the persons performing platform work.
Transparency and data protection
The directive introduces more protective rules for platform workers in the field of data protection. Platforms will be forbidden to process certain types of personal data, such as on personal beliefs and private exchanges with colleagues.
The text also improves transparency by obliging platforms to inform workers and their representatives on how their algorithms work and how a worker’s behaviour affects decisions taken by automated systems.
Platforms will have to transmit information on self-employed workers that they employ to the competent national authorities and to representatives of platform workers, such as trade unions.
Rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini (S&D, IT), said: “After many hours of negotiations, I am glad to see that we reached a provisional agreement today. It is a balanced text that protects workers, good employers and provides for a European level playing field. It will also be the first time that we will have EU rules on algorithmic management in the work place. More transparency and accountability for algorithms and more protection of data for platform workers should become a real benchmark at global level. We made sure that up to 40 million platform workers in Europe have access to fair labour conditions."
Dragoș Pîslaru (Renew, RO), Chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, said: “On behalf of the Committee, I welcome this provisional agreement. It was concluded at almost the end of extra time and it is the last opportunity to deliver on one of the key pieces of legislation that are part of the Social Pillar. This agreement will improve working conditions in the platform economy and increase transparency and accountability of algorithmic management in the workplace.”
The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to enter into force.
European Commission analysis from 2021 found that there are more than 500 digital labour platforms active and the sector employs more than 28 million people - a figure expected to reach 43 million by 2025. Currently, at least about 5.5 million of these workers’ work may be wrongly classified as self-employed (known as bogus self-employment), meaning that they are missing out on important labour and social protection rights.