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In the throws of the legal debate about the classification of digital platform workers, the European Commission (EC) has just published a report titled “Platform Workers in Europe,” which includes the results of research work carried out by the Joint Research Centre, with the aim of making available quantitative data about this groups of workers in 14 Member States, one of which is Spain. The report reveals interesting statistics:

  • How many digital platform workers are there? In Spain, 11.6% of the adult population has provided services at some stage through digital platforms; this is the second highest figure, with the UK leading (12%). The average figure for the 14 countries included in the study is 10%, although less than 6% spend at least 10 hours weekly working in this activity and only 2% obtain at least half of their income through this kind of work.
  • Who are they? Typically, digital platform workers are young men educated to a degree level with less years of work experience than the average worker and (surprisingly) they often have a family and children.
  • How do they classify themselves? When asked about their employment situation, over two-thirds of the workers polled claimed to be employees, although it is not clear whether they consider their relationship with the digital platforms to be an employment one or whether they actually have a complementary regular job as employees.

The report aims to define the EU policies in this area. In recent months, the EC has implemented two initiatives, under the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights, aimed at protecting these workers’ rights:

 

  • The proposal for a directive on transparent and predictable working conditions, aimed at improving the Directive on the employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or the employment relationship. This proposes the following:
  • Extending the directive’s scope of application. The current directive refers to the definition of “employee” established in the national laws of each Member State. The EC suggests establishing a common definition of “employee,” to guarantee its application to digital platform workers included in that definition.
  • Updating the information requirement regarding the place of work. With digital platform workers in mind, it is being considered to oblige employers to inform the workers, in the case that there is no fixed place of work, of the principle under which the worker can decide on his or her place of work.
  • The proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. In some Member States, certain categories of workers, including digital platform workers, are excluded from the social security systems. The recommendation proposes that workers, regardless of the kind of employment contract they have, and self-employed workers with comparable conditions, be entitled to contribute to the social security systems so they can acquire rights and have access to full and appropriate cover.

 

Without prejudice to Brussels’ plans, in Spain, and based on recent judgments by different labor courts declaring the employment nature of the relationship of riders working for Deliveroo and Take It Easy, several platforms have committed to working with the government to design a specific regulatory framework, similar to the current French model, for the sector in Spain.

We will be monitoring the initiatives in this area both in Spain and in the EU.

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alejandro.garciaesteban@cuatrecasas.com

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