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Agreement on EU law to improve conditions for platform workers

A legislative framework for digital platform workers and the first EU-rules on algorithmic management in the workplace have provisionally been agreed by the European Parliament and EU-governments in the European Council. The Platform Work Directive aims to ensure correct classification of the employment status of people doing platform work and to introduce the first ever EU-rules on algorithmic management and the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace.

The Parliament says that currently, at least 5.5 million persons working on platform may be wrongly classified as self-employed (known as bogus self-employment) and are missing out on important labour and social protection rights.

An European Commission analysis 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. Digital labour platforms are present in a variety of economic sectors, be it “on location”, such as ride-hailing and food delivery drivers, or online with services such as data encoding and translation.

The new rules introduce a presumption of an employment relationship (as opposed to self-employed) that is triggered when two out of a list of five indicators of control or direction are present. This list can be expanded by member states. 

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Currently, platform workers do not have access to information on how the algorithms work and how their behaviour affects decisions taken by automated systems. With the new rules, platforms will provide this information to workers and their representatives.

With the new rules, platforms will be prohibited from taking certain important decisions, such as dismissals and decisions to suspend an account, without human oversight. The text also ensures more human oversight on the decisions of systems that directly affect the persons performing platform work”, the Parliament says in a statement.

Platforms will be also obliged to assess the impact of decisions taken or supported by automated monitoring and decision-making systems on working conditions, health and safety and fundamental rights.

The new rules will forbid platforms from processing certain types of personal data, such as personal beliefs, private exchanges with colleagues, or when a worker is not at work, and the Directive introduces more protective rules for platform work in the field of data protection.

Under the new law, it will not be possible for a platform to circumvent the rules by using intermediaries, i.e. when workers have a direct contractual relationship with a party other than the relevant digital platform. Member states will have to make sure that persons performing platform work working through intermediaries enjoy the same level of protection as those with a direct contractual relationship.

The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to enter into force.

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