Fair work in the platform economy (Exploratory opinion at the request of the German presidency)

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EESK atzinums: Fair work in the platform economy (Exploratory opinion at the request of the German presidency)

Key points

The EESC:

  • recommends that questions concerning platform work be addressed and resolved bearing in mind, in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Digital Agenda and the European Pillar of Social Rights;
  • notes that the platform economy still carries little weight, although it offers potential for growth;
  • notes that platforms have "a generally positive impact on the economy"[1], contributing as much to job creation and innovation, flexibility and autonomy for workers, as to ensuring income for workers (often supplementary) and allowing vulnerable people to access employment;
  • notes that there are risks that must not be underestimated: (i) for workers, the denial of basic rights, including the rights to organisation and collective bargaining; precariousness; low pay; the increasing intensity of work; the extreme fragmentation of work on a global scale; the non-affiliation of workers to social security schemes; and (ii) for society, the increased risk of competition based on undercutting social standards, which also has harmful consequences both for employers, who are subject to unsustainable competitive pressure, and for Member States, who forego tax revenue and social security contributions;
  • is aware of the argument over platform-related concepts, in particular regarding platforms as "employers" rather than "supply and demand intermediaries" and "employees" and "self-employed workers", since it has consequences for their rights;
  • urges the Commission and the Member States to work to clarify these concepts and move towards uniformity of concepts in order to achieve decent work in the platform economy;
  • recommends that, in view of Member States' sovereignty in social issues, guidelines be drawn up to help clarify employment status on platforms. The EESC considers that in the platform economy steps should be taken to ensure that all workers have access to a set of rights and to protection, regardless of their employment status or type of contract, guaranteeing that some operators cannot gain a competitive edge by not meeting obligations and responsibilities;
  • recommends clarifying the responsibilities of all parties involved in matters such as health and safety, data protection, insurance and legal liability, with a view to evaluating, adjusting and harmonising existing regulations;
  • emphasises that social dialogue and collective bargaining must play a key role at all relevant levels, fully respecting the autonomy of the social partners;
  • believes that steps should be taken to ensure that platforms provide information which would allow there to be transparency and predictability for all parties concerned. To this end, the platforms in each Member State should be registered and a database established in the EU to monitor the development of the platform economy.

[1]           OJ C 303, 19.8.2016, p. 54.