January 23, 2022

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The European Commission wants to give passengers more rights

The European Commission on Thursday presented Suggestion for direction To improve and regulate the conditions of employees of the digital platform; So one also talks about the so-called racer, delivery boys who provide home delivery services through platforms such as Glovo, Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, and Driver, ie drivers of taxi services such as Uber. If approved, the directive could have very profound effects: millions of people across Europe could be recognized as employees and receive new rights, guarantees and benefits; Moreover, platforms can be forced to fundamentally change the way they operate.

Compared to some laws adopted by member states, such as the so-called “law riderWhich came into force this year in Spain, the proposed European directive has a very wide scope.

First of all because it matters to everyone working in digital platforms: not just me racer Which Driver, but also all those whose work is organized through a digital platform. This includes, for example, workers who provide translation services across platforms, or those who provide housekeeping services or other manual jobs. To be considered so, platforms must regulate the work of the people who use them: so online bulletin boards are excluded from directing.

The most important part of the guidance is undoubtedly related to the classification of platform workers. According to the Commission, there are about 500 digital platforms in Europe today, employing 28 million people. Of those, 5.5 million would be incorrectly categorized: they would do an employee job despite having an independent contract, or vice versa.

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This problem has been strongly felt for years in almost all countries where the platforms operate, and it has recently become especially evident with racerMany of them summarize, argue To have the obligations and obligations of employees, without enjoying the same benefits and the same security.

Many platform workers – even if it is not entirely clear the total number – have long asked, even in the event of a protest, to be categorized as employees. Instead, the platforms argue that the majority of their workers prefer the independence that flexible contracts provide, and that their job in any case is simply that of intermediaries between workers and customers, not employers.

To solve this problem, the authority has developed a set of criteria that must determine whether a digital platform is an employer or not. According to UNHCR, platforms can be employers if:

  • determining the level of the bonus or setting its maximum limits;
  • They supervise worker performance through electronic systems;
  • restriction of freedom of choice of working hours or tasks;
  • They impose specific rules on the way workers should dress or behave towards customers;
  • They limit your ability to build your own clients or work for someone else.

If the platform meets at least two of these criteria, it will automatically be considered as an employer, and its workers will be able to enjoy rights such as guaranteed vacation, minimum wage (in the countries where it is provided), parental leave, sick leave, and accrual of contributions for retirement, among other things. other.

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This automatism, defined as a “rebuttable presumption of dependency,” is very important, because it means that compliance with two criteria is sufficient to designate an employer as such.

Platforms can object to this designation through a mechanism predicted by the routing and called “rebut” (i.e. “refute”, “respond”), but the burden of proof rests on them. It is up to the platform, in fact, to prove to the national authorities that labor relations with its workers are not a form of dependent employment: it is the opposite of what has happened thus far, where it has always been workers who, in court, have had to prove that they were employees to demand that they be granted certain rights.

Other innovations envisaged by the proposed directive relate to the transparency of worker management algorithms, i.e. automatic decision systems that, for example, map delivery to racer Rather than others: Platforms should be more transparent about how algorithms work and give workers the ability to challenge their decisions.

The directive also requires platforms to inform member state authorities of more information about who they work for and under what circumstances.

However, it will take a long time before the directive actually enters into force, if it ever comes into effect: it will have to be discussed by the European Parliament, after which it will pass to the Council of the Union, that is, from the governments of individual member states, which will have to decide to incorporate it into the Its national legislation, with possible changes to apply. Many aspects of the proposal can also be changed, also due to the impact of platforms, which will certainly try to mitigate some of the more important aspects of the proposal for them.

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talking with The New York TimesUber representative He said That the company opposes the European Commission’s proposal, because it would put thousands of jobs at risk and force platforms to increase costs for customers. Many digital platforms, such as those for home food delivery, have been highly critical of business models and operate largely at a loss: there is virtually no platform Connecting It has so far reported a year of profit, despite the huge success of its services.

Also for this reason, the threat that platform market regulation will increase costs for end customers has already been used extensively in the past.

For example, at the end of 2020 organized platforms Referendum In the state of California, in the United States, to be exempted from the law that required them to pay minimum wages and unemployment benefits to workers. The platforms organized the most expensive referendum campaign in California history, threatening that if the referendum did not pass, the platforms would be forced to raise prices. The referendum proposed by the pulpits was passed. But after a few months, like a favour the edgeThe platforms raised their prices anyway.