EU Ministers Confirm Agreement on New Rules to Enhance Platform Workers’ Conditions

In a landmark decision, EU employment and social affairs ministers have solidified a provisional agreement to enhance platform workers’ working conditions. The agreement, which was initially reached on 8 February 2024, between the Council’s presidency and the European Parliament’s negotiators on the platform work directive, marks a significant step forward in regulating the use of algorithms by digital labour platforms.

The directive, a pioneering EU legal act, seeks to bolster transparency in the utilisation of algorithms in human resources management, ensuring that automated systems are overseen by qualified personnel and granting workers the right to challenge automated decisions. Furthermore, it strives to determine the employment status of individuals working for platforms accurately, thus enabling them to access the labour rights they are entitled to.

“This is a pivotal moment for the millions of platform workers across the EU. The agreement reaffirms the commitment of the European Union to uphold the social dimension and improve the working conditions of its citizens,” remarked Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Economy and Employment.

The directive addresses the issue of false self-employment prevalent in platform work by establishing a legal presumption to determine the correct employment status of platform workers. Member states will incorporate this presumption into their legal systems, with triggers including indicators of control and direction as determined by national law and collective agreements. Individuals or authorities may invoke this presumption, shifting the burden onto the platform to prove the absence of an employment relationship.

In addition to tackling employment status, the agreement focuses on regulating algorithmic management in the workplace. Workers will be informed about the use of automated monitoring and decision-making systems pertaining to recruitment, working conditions, and earnings. Moreover, the directive prohibits the use of such systems for processing sensitive personal data and ensures human oversight and evaluation of automated decisions.

The next steps involve finalising the agreement’s text in all official languages and its formal adoption by both institutions. Member states will then have two years to incorporate the provisions of the directive into their national legislation

The proposal for the directive was initially put forward by the Commission in December 2021. Negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament commenced in July 2023, with Pierre-Yves Dermagne and rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini representing the respective bodies. Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, represented the Commission throughout the negotiations.