EU legislation to protect platform workers (draft)

▲ Ae-rim Yoon, labor rights research activist

The European Commission (EU) announced on the 9th a proposal to improve the legislation, including the ‘legislative guidelines (draft) for improving working conditions for platform labor’. The ‘legislative directive’ is to present the legislative purpose that EU member states should achieve together. If a legislative directive is passed, EU member states must improve their laws and systems to realize the objectives set out in the directive. In announcing this draft directive, the European Commission emphasized that the following three are the key measures to protect platform labor.

First of all, the guidelines (draft) set the problem of misclassification of employment status as the first task to protect platform labor. In order to solve the problem that workers are treated as ‘self-employed’ just because they get a job through the platform, a rule to estimate the employment relationship between the platform company and the worker is proposed. In other words, if a platform company falls under two or more of the following five indicators, it is estimated as a ‘user’. The five indicators are for platform companies to △determine the remuneration received by workers or set an upper limit on the amount of remuneration △to ensure that workers follow the rules regarding appearance, such as dress, hair, uniform, etc., how they respond to customers, and work performance △ Supervising workers’ performance of work or evaluating the results of their work, e.g. electronically, restricting workers’ freedom to choose working or non-working hours, limiting their freedom to accept or not accepting work (tasks) To effectively limit or impose sanctions on workers’ freedom to organize themselves in labor provision, such as limiting their freedom to have them provide labor on their behalf This is a case that effectively limits the possibility of working for a third party. And if a platform company wants to overturn the assumption of an employment relationship, the burden of proof is to be borne by the platform company.

Second, the guidelines (draft) clarify workers’ rights regarding automated control through algorithms and artificial intelligence. It guarantees the right to know about decisions such as algorithms and artificial intelligence that affect working conditions, such as work assignment, remuneration, labor safety, working hours, sanctions, and account suspension or blocking. In addition, information related to the main parameters of the algorithm used for monitoring, supervision, and rating of workers was made available by platform companies to workers and their representatives.

Third, the European Commission also announced the ‘Guideline (draft) for guaranteeing the right to collective agreements of single-person self-employed persons’ along with the guidelines (draft). This includes measures to protect the collective bargaining rights and collective agreements of self-employed individuals with weak bargaining power so that they can improve their working conditions on their own, even if they are not judged as workers under the Labor Law.

The political message of the EU improvement plan announced this time is clear. In order to protect various types of workers outside the labor law, including platform workers, first, solving the problem of misclassification through the employment relationship estimation system and acknowledging the responsibility of users of platform companies, second, workers and worker representatives for electronic control such as algorithms and artificial intelligence The most urgent task is to guarantee the right to collective bargaining as a basic right of all workers, regardless of whether they are workers under the law.

The solution proposed by the EU this time is in stark contrast to the ‘platform worker protection measures’ promoted by the Moon Jae-in government. The so-called ‘Platform Employee Protection Act’ has no practical measures against the problem of misclassification of workers, and there is nothing more than lip service about workers’ rights regarding control through algorithms. In addition, the amendment to Article 2 of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act (Union Act) to guarantee three labor rights to all workers who ‘provide their own labor and receive compensation’ was petitioned with the initiative of 100,000 people last year, but it was still on the discussion table until the end of the regime. It’s not even uploaded to .

I hope the government and the National Assembly should not just repeat the anachronistic claim that “the labor law is difficult to apply to platform workers” but face the international trend regarding platform labor protection. We also urge you to abolish the Platform Workers Protection Act, which is outdated in the world trend, and join the efforts to effectively apply the labor law to all workers.

Labor Rights Research Activist ([email protected])

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