Platform workers: French presidency clings to criteria approach

The French presidency wants to keep the criteria determining whether the platform worker is an employee and the threshold of two criteria out of five needed to trigger the presumption in the body of the directive, according to the compromise text dated 19 May and obtained by EURACTIV. [Antonello Marangi/Shutterstock]

The French Presidency of the EU Council suggests not to stray too far from the Commission’s proposal regarding the determination of the status of platform workers but could share the same ambition as the European Parliament regarding algorithmic management.

Unlike in the draft report by leading MEP Elisabetta Gualmini, the French presidency wants to keep the criteria determining whether the platform worker is an employee and the threshold of two criteria out of five needed to trigger the presumption in the body of the directive, according to the compromise text dated 19 May, obtained by EURACTIV.

The legal presumption of employment would apply “when the digital labour platform restricts that person’s freedom, including through sanctions, to organise his or her work and controls its execution”, according to the new wording put forward by the Council’s presidency.

The criteria to assess whether this restriction is operating are maintained and kept, including the setting of remuneration, binding rules for appearance such as a uniform, supervising performance by electronic means, restricting the freedom to organise one’s working hours or the possibility to work for another client.

In the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs’s draft copy, the rapporteur suggested expanding this list of criteria to 11 while moving them to the text’s, non-binding, preamble – sparking concerns from the industry and conservative MEPs that this move would lead to automatically classify all workers as employees, therefore destroying the whole platform economy market

Conservatives prepare to battle on platform workers directive, rally up with industry

Conservative MEPs from the European People’s Party (EPP) are preparing their counter-offensive against the rapporteur’s push for tight employment protection for platform workers, joining forces with the industry.

Interestingly, the French presidency highlighted that, while national, competent authorities may rely on the presumption when assessing the contractual relationship, they can choose not to if it is “evident that the presumption would be rebutted” based on “previous assessments of competent national authorities and relevant court decisions”.

Finally, the compromise text still includes that the voluntary provision of benefits to platform workers like social protection, accident insurance or training opportunities should not be considered while assessing the employment relationship – unlike Gualmini’s draft report, where it has been removed.

Leading MEP pushes for tight employment protection in platform workers directive

Centre-left lawmaker Elisabetta Gualmini has significantly expanded provisions for platform workers to ask for employee status and the human review of algorithm management in her draft report.

Algorithmic management

Although adopting different approaches, the French presidency also offered to make the framing of algorithmic management “for every person performing platform work” equally important as the correct determination of their employment status.

Article 1 of the text, setting the purposes of the directive, now includes “the protection of natural persons performing platform work regarding the processing of their personal data”.

A new recital states that these “objectives are being pursued simultaneously and, whilst inseparably linked, one is not secondary to the other”.

Chapter 3 of the directive, addressing the use of automated monitoring and decision-making systems, has, for now, remained untouched as the discussions in the Council have only been about the first two chapters.

This partial redraft is now set to be discussed on Tuesday (24 May) at the Working Party on Social Questions. The Council’s general approach in the Council is expected by the end of the year.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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