Published on 17th September 2021
The online platform economy is one of the most visible and pronounced features of the changing world of work and characteristic of the trend of digitalisation and automation in the world of work. The World Employment Confederation-Europe, the voice of the private employment services industry in Europe and the EU Sectoral Social Partner for temporary agency work, embraces this trend as online platform work provides opportunities for companies to grow, for people to work as they wish and for consumers to access new services. With an increasing number of companies in the private employment services industry starting to deliver (some of) their services through online platforms, there is no sharp differentiation between the private employment services industry and the online talent platform economy.
“The online platform economy allows people and businesses to organise work in new ways and holds the potential to enhance labour market participation through diverse forms of work, thus also contributing to the economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic” said Dr. Michael Freytag, World Employment Confederation-Europe’s Public Affairs Manager. “Online talent platforms match people with work, improve labour market allocation and efficiency. Ultimately, it has the potential of enabling inclusive work, prosperity, security and adaptation.”
With regards to an EU legislative initiative on working conditions in online platform work, the World Employment Confederation-Europe calls for the correct classification of people working via online talent platforms and for the application and enforcement of existing EU and national regulation, including sectoral legislation.
Platform work is fundamentally based on diverse forms of work, including self-employment, direct employment as workers and the triangular work relationship characteristic to temporary agency work. The World Employment Confederation-Europe does not believe that a rebuttable presumption of employment is a fruitful solution, but we can observe that some platforms act like private employment services companies and offering temporary agency work without respecting or complying with the European and national laws on temporary agency work and impose a self-employed status. That is the reason why we do believe that online talent platforms should be classified and judged based on their de facto and real business activities and should not be allowed to hide behind a too strong presumption of self-employment examined on a case-by-case basis.
In addition to this, the correct classification of people working via online platforms at the national level is essential in order to prevent the involuntary and mandatory status of self-employed. In cases where clarity on the employment status could not be reached and there is a litigation at national courts, the World Employment Confederation-Europe could support the reversal of the burden of proof.
The World Employment Confederation-Europe supports political guidance and non-legally binding initiatives at EU level to foster new ways of working, learning and social protection in online platform work. These initiatives should be based on dialogue and exchange with the online platforms and should reflect the different business models and forms to organise work via online platforms.
As EU sectoral social partner for temporary agency work, the World Employment Confederation-Europe aims to continue contributing to the EU policy debates on working conditions in online platform work, while not entering into formal, EU social partner negotiations on working conditions in platform work.