Platform Work in the European Union: Lessons Learned, Legal Developments and Challenges Ahead
European Union, 2020
22 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020 Last revised: 28 Nov 2020
Date Written: March 22, 2020
Platform work is a seemingly new form of employment, emerged in the last decade, in which a digital system facilitates the matching between demand and supply of particular services and organises the performance to a certain degree by means of guidelines, customer reviews, algorithmic governance and other mechanisms. Accordingly, the overarching concern of this paper is to address possible policy gaps and further implications for EU labour law, by exploring the lessons to be drawn from recent regulatory and legal developments. This study will deliberately take some crucial issues for granted for two main reasons. On the one hand, a selection of developments must be made due to space constraints. On the other, numerous studies have refocused the crux of the discussion, resolved some points of controversy, and moved the debate forward. As a result, ongoing research can now concentrate on a pressing goal, namely assessing the regulatory fitness of existing social institutions with the aim to offer realistic solutions for all actors involved in the “platform economy”.
This paper is organised as follows. Besides discussing the key lessons learned from previous studies on platform work, Section 2 briefly illustrates the trends and initiatives in policymaking in France and Italy. At the same time, it presents and reviews the main outcomes of litigation at the domestic level, with a focus on the increasingly dominant role played by algorithms. It also reviews the impact of the Covid19 pandemic. After introducing the Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), Section 3 critically analyses two key achievements at the EU level, namely the Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions and the Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. In the same vein, Section 4 assesses the elasticity of the triad of Directives regulating atypical employment. This section argues that the narrow construction of their personal scope of application represents an obstacle. However, an adaptive and purposive role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) could result in classifying platform workers as falling under the scope of the social acquis in some fields. Finally, Section 5 concludes by offering several concrete suggestions.
Keywords: platform work, digital transformation, European labour law, part-time, fixed term, temporary agency work, gig-economy
JEL Classification: K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation