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Digital workers prioritize flexibility – not jobs – POLITICO

Sara Skyttedal, Miriam Lexmann, Radan Kanev, Gheorghe Falcă, Jessica Polfjärd, Lukas Mandl, Stefan Berger, Tomáš Zdechovský, Romana Tomc, Christian Sagartz, Eugen Tomac, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut are members of the European People’s Party Group in Parliament and part of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The digital platform economy has undoubtedly become an essential part of our lives, shaping everything from employment to transportation and consumption.

But this growing part of our economy also presents its own unique set of challenges – challenges that must be met by a clear and balanced legal framework. And as the European Parliament considers a new directive, a big question still arises: should platform workers be considered employees? and do they want it?

The new directive on improving the conditions of workers on digital platforms which is currently being considered by Parliament has two key points. — introduce new rules on algorithmic management, welcome and necessary, and the presumption of use, unfortunately misguided in its scope.

Parliament has, of course, already addressed this issue of employment, but in a much more impartial way.

Written by MEP Sylvie Brunet of Renew Europe, and adopted by a majority of 524 MEPs, an own-initiative report from September, focusing on social protections for platform workers, had called for a limited presumption of employment. This meant that the report’s trade-off targeted “fake self-employment” – as in the case of work that involves all of an employee’s responsibility but none of the benefits. And in doing so, he recognized the rights of genuine self-employed workers, stopping before anything approaching a mass reclassification of platform workers.

However, the coalition that adopted this balanced Brunet report is now in danger.

In its December proposal for a directive, the Commission introduced much broader reclassification criteria, which would now encompass the vast majority of platform workers. And just last month, the rapporteur for the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), MEP Elisabetta Gualmini of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, decided to remove the presumption in all but name, and to replace with rules that would lead to mandatory employment for all who work through digital platforms.

But numerous independent studies have repeatedly shown that the vast majority of platform workers value flexibility and better earnings, as well as the ability to work with multiple platforms at the same time, more than advantages of a traditional working relationship.

Few would therefore support the Commission’s proposal, let alone the draft report currently before the EMPL committee, which would automatically requalify them as employees, depriving them of the possibility of combining their work with other sources of income , family responsibilities, studies or other personal commitments.

Although both the Commission and Parliament’s rapporteur have the best intentions, if we are to achieve a more balanced directive, there are still key key points to consider regarding platforms and their growing importance in the digital economy .

First of all, the wishes of those who work in the platform economy today, who prefer to maintain their status as freelancers, should not be overlooked. In short, they prioritize job flexibility over the benefits of a more traditional job.

Furthermore, it should be remembered that a directive in line with the report would target not only drivers and couriers, but also tens of thousands of highly qualified professionals, using the Internet to find customers. And since these services can be provided from anywhere in the world, the proposed directive risks putting European professionals (software developers, translators and language teachers) at a massive disadvantage compared to their non-European competitors.

Finally, the currently proposed directive would not take into account the digital transition. For example, these proposals would dictate that a ride-hailing driver who works through an app should become an employee of the app developer, while a similar driver working through a dispatch office and two-way radio would be able to maintain the benefits of self-employment. Thus, the directive could end up granting the greatest commercial advantages to the least inventive companies.

Needless to say, such an approach would be detrimental to European competitiveness, as well as to European jobs.

That is why, as EMPL members of the European People’s Party Group in Parliament, we will seek to restore the balance of the proposal and fight for a directive that affirms the digital transition, targets bogus self-employment and protects the rights truly independent people. -employees by ensuring that platform workers can continue to make the decisions that are best for them.

Innovation is in Europe’s DNA. And while increased digitization has led to job losses in many sectors, we are convinced that with an appropriate and balanced legal framework, Europe can compensate for this loss and become a world leader in the platform economy by full growth.


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