Press release on the progress of the trilogue of the European platform work directive, December 2023
Yesterday, December 13, 2023, a first provisional agreement on the European Platforms Directive, which has the mission of regulating the working conditions of 28 million people who earn their living through platforms across the EU.
Of the total working population, the European Commission estimates that around 5.5 million people are wrongly classified as independent or self-employed workers, a tactic that has been used deliberately by companies to reduce costs and expand rapidly, giving way to the degradation of rights and abusive conditions that we have sadly witnessed over the last decade. In fact, the actions of these kinds of companies have been so aggressive and reckless that today we have already internalized that platform workers are one of the new topics of precarious work, and it is no surprise to anyone to see news of delivery workers dying in work accidents.
In this context, the agreement reached in the European Directive is based on three fundamental points:
- Promote the correct definition of the employment situation of platform workers through the clarification of five variables on working conditions, of which two must be met to presume an employment relationship.
- Regulation of the use of algorithms in the organization of work.
- Ensure human supervision in sensitive decisions.
- Classification of workers
The objective is to end the strategy of false self-employment and provide workers with the rights and protections enshrined in the employment relationship. Therefore, to clarify whether this relationship exists or not, five variables are proposed to analyse working conditions:
- Establishing limits on the amount of money that can be earned.
- Supervision of the performance of each worker.
- Control in the distribution or assignment of workload.
- Definition or control over working conditions and guidelines for choosing the schedule.
- Restrictions on the freedom to organize work and establishment of standards regarding appropriate appearance or desirable behaviour.
If the working conditions on the platform meet two of these variables, it will be presumed that an employment relationship exists, with the company itself having to prove otherwise.
- Regulation of the use of algorithms in the organization of work
As we know, platforms have been characterized through opaque algorithms to establish a system of assessment and competition for the workload among the working population, resulting in a model of constant data extraction to monitor behaviour and its sanction. In this sense, the Directive states that people must be informed about the use of automated systems for the organization of work, in addition to prohibiting the collection and systematization of personal data referring to:
- The emotional or psychological state of the workers.
- Private conversations.
- Predict actual or potential union activity.
- Infer racial or ethnic origin, religious beliefs, immigration status, health status or political opinions.
- Biometric characteristics, other than those used for authentication on the platform.
- Human supervision
All automated computer systems for the organization of work, in addition to complying with the previous parameters, must be supervised by expert people, ensuring that there is a human monitoring the decision chain and prohibiting, incidentally, the sad, but famous, automated dismissal.
At Riders x Derechos we take nothing for granted, and we will remain attentive to the latest steps taken by the Directive and its application, especially because we are aware that it is almost two years late and that lobbying by companies has been brutal and shameless, which is recorded in the “II rider law monitoring report” from the Work, Algorithm and Society Observatory (TAS). We know first-hand that companies like Uber or Glovo are not willing to give in, and that they will do whatever is necessary to continue enriching themselves at the expense of job insecurity.
Regarding this, we must warn that a few days ago, Glovo emailed the delivery workers saying that they stop monitoring their location during delivery work. With this movement, on the one hand, (they say that) they do not monitor and (they say that) they do not know the waiting time of delivery workers in restaurants, and, therefore, they will not pay for it anymore, saving a good amount of money, which It is added to the millions they save on our social security and labour rights in general. However, let us remember that it was recently shown that Glovo spies and shares the data of its riders even when they are not working, including geolocation data, as can be seen from the research carried out by Claudio Agosti for ETUI.
Although the application of the advances of the Directive is not immediate, and we cannot directly relate this new movement by Glovo to it, it can be interpreted as one more step in the line of avoiding the employment relationship, this time to show that there is no supervision, which would coincide with the second criterion described in the Directive.
At the level of Spain, we want to remember that the “Rider Law” continues to be the reference on the employment of platform delivery workers and that its compliance is a pending matter for the State, including the Ministry of Labor, in addition to the unions and the companies. We hope that the European Directive is a tool that allows us to strengthen our legislation and that once and for all the rights of all platform workers are guaranteed.