Working activities executed through platforms: latest updates from the EU

23 May 2024

 In Italy, determining the correct scheme of regulations to apply to platform workers remains a heated topic, revived by recent judgements of the Employment Courts. The latest European directive, whose formal adoption by the European Council is still awaited, may solve these discussions.

On April 24th, 2024, the European Parliament formally adopted the content of a new European directive (the “Directive”), which the latter had already arranged with the European Council last February, “on improving working conditions in platform work”.

More specifically, this new normative text holds the potential to define the guidelines to which Member States will have to comply when managing these types of employment relationships. It aims to harmonise their classification at a European level, ensuring that the principles expressed in the European pillar of social rights are implemented. This includes the prevention of employment relationships that lead to precarious working conditions, such as the abuse of atypical contracts. 

Moreover, because of a significant increase in technology to manage working performance, the Directive aims to alert Member States to the new forms of digital interaction, which can create opportunities for access to decent and quality jobs only if they are well-regulated and implemented. Otherwise, there is a risk that they may result in technology-enabled surveillance, increase power imbalances, and jeopardise decent working conditions, health and safety at work, equal treatment and the right to privacy.

From a purely practical point of view, the Directive introduces an assumption of a subordinate employment relationship in cases where there is proof that the platform workers carry out their activities under the control and direction of their employer. To such purposes the typical indicators of national legislation, the collective agreements, and the case law of the Court of Justice shall be taken into consideration. When the employees have met this simplified burden of proof, the employer will have to prove that, notwithstanding the work performance through the digital platform, the worker was still self-employed.

Furthermore, the Directive sets some restrictions on processing personal data by automated decision-making or monitoring systems. More specifically, the latter is prevented from processing, for instance, personal data relating to the worker's emotional or psychological state or private conversations, data relating to a time when work performance is suspended, and data to infer personal and confidential characteristics of the worker (e.g., racial or ethnic origin, disability, social status).

As of now, the final text of the Directive, which will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union, is still awaiting formal adoption by the European Council. Once this last step is taken, it will mark the beginning of the two-year period available to Member States, including you, to implement its provisions within their legislations.

2024 - Morri Rossetti