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Image: © Syda Productions/Adobe Stock
Image: © Syda Productions/Adobe Stock

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Policymakers and social partners pilot protection for platform workers

Governments, social partners, grassroots organisations and platforms across the EU have started to pilot initiatives to improve the working conditions and social protection coverage of platform workers. They aim to organise platform workers and negotiate on their working conditions, to provide insurance and social protection, and to offer information and advice. The impact of these efforts is currently limited as they are relatively recent, however they set important precedents and establish minimum labour standards.

While online platforms offer opportunities for workers and employers, they have been criticised for creating precarious employment and providing poor working conditions. Accordingly, across the EU, governments, social partners, grassroots organisations and platforms have started to introduce initiatives to tackle the negative aspects of platform work. Eurofound’s new policy brief, Initiatives to improve conditions for platform workers: Aims, methods, strengths and weaknesses, published today, assesses several such initiatives in the Member States and offers recommendations for further action.

The policy brief highlights that there is currently a lack of initiatives tackling the specific problems of online platform work, such as undeclared work and tax evasion, lack of social protection, and unfavourable pay rates and working time. Cross-border initiatives that, for example, monitor online platform work and investigate details on the platforms, workers, clients and tasks can be an effective way to facilitate cross-border exchange of tax and social security data. Such initiatives could also seek to inform platform workers about their rights and obligations when working through platforms in different countries.

Initiatives to improve the working conditions of platform workers are also unevenly distributed across the EU, with few currently operational in eastern Member States. Broader strategies and individual initiatives to improve conditions for platform workers can benefit from closer cooperation between different stakeholders. In particular, joint activities by established trade unions and grassroots organisations can draw on the strengths of both to improve effectiveness. Designing initiatives so that they achieve adequate protection for workers without hindering innovation and technological progress is essential.

Clarity on the definitions of platform work and platforms is an important precondition for action in the area, as is clarity on the scope of legislation. It is also critical to create a broad framework that covers all platform work while encouraging more tailored approaches to individual types of platform work and platform workers, including vulnerable self-employed.

As Europe’s labour market continues to change following the COVID-19 pandemic, the social protection of platform workers is a priority, especially for those for whom it is their main job or who combine it with other precarious employment. The policy brief concludes that it is crucial to ensure that these workers receive adequate security, are informed of their eligibility for benefits, and that the process for accessing services is clear and transparent.

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James Higgins

James Higgins

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Måns Mårtensson

Måns Mårtensson

Press contact Media & Promotion Manager Media relations, marketing and promotion +353-1-204 3124

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Eurofound, a tripartite European Union Agency, provides knowledge to assist in the development of social, employment and work-related policies

Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) is a tripartite EU body, whose mission is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment and work-related policies.

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