The EU introduces regulation of relations between workers and online platforms

The EU introduces regulation of relations between workers and online platforms

The EU Council and the European Parliament have agreed on a bill that, on the one hand, will better protect the rights of workers on online platforms (such as taxi drivers and delivery service workers), and on the other, will help combat fictitious self-employment. The document will differentiate between self-employment and traditional labor relations, giving employees who switched to them the right to paid leave, sick leave and pension insurance. European regulatory experience in this area can be applied in the future in the Russian Federation. So far, the development of the Russian bill on platform employment has been delayed - according to experts, and due to a lack of interest from employers.

In the coming months, some self-employed people in the European Union will be able to reclassify their relationships with online platforms, with the help of which they find orders, as labor ones. This will be possible thanks to a bill agreed upon by the EU Council and the European Parliament (the document has yet to receive final approval from these bodies). The project will make it possible to draw a line between “real” and “fictitious” self-employed - those who are actually in an employment relationship with a company. If there are “facts indicating control and management” of the employee by the employer, his relationship with the platform will automatically be recognized as labor, and the platform itself will have to prove that it is self-employment. The employee himself will be able to initiate retraining - if his relationship with the platform is recognized as labor, he will have the right to apply for paid leave, sick leave, pension insurance, accident insurance and a guaranteed minimum wage. In addition, a self-employed person performing work for an online platform will not be able to be fired or removed from it by decision of an algorithm or automated system - “human control” in such cases will be mandatory.

Now, according to the European Commission, about 30 million workers work in the EU using more than 500 digital platforms, most of whom provide transport services or deliver ready-made food. However, more than half (55%) of them earn less than the minimum wage in their countries using the platforms. After the introduction of a new approach to the distinction between self-employment and traditional labor relations from the first category to the second, according to the EU Council, by 2025 5.5 million people will be able to move.

The European experience in regulating platform employment in the future may also be in demand in Russia - according to the Federal Tax Service, the number of self-employed people in the country is now over 9 million. At the same time, according to the Center for Strategic Research, for most of them this activity has become the only source of income (79% ), and therefore for the most part they are excluded from the social and pension insurance systems.

Previously, the government stated that this spring the State Duma could adopt a bill that, similar to the EU document, would fix the differences between platform and traditional employment. However, according to Kommersant’s source in the RSPP, it is not yet “obvious that trade unions and employers will be able to agree on at least some version of the document.” Due to disagreements, we recall that the rules on platforms were not included in the final version of the new employment law adopted in 2023.

“Platform employment can be distinguished from ordinary employment by several criteria,” says Pavel Kudyukin, a member of the Council of the Confederation of Labor of Russia. “Of course, if you are a tutor and accept orders for lessons from different people, and the platform only regulates the size of its commission, this is platform employment. If it regulates your schedule, the amount of earnings, and so on, we are talking about a full-fledged employment relationship.” However, according to him, the delay in developing a law on platform employment is unlikely to be due to the inability to develop definitions - the process may be slowed down by the employers themselves, who benefit from the lack of regulation.

The shortage of personnel may also contribute to improving the working conditions of platform workers both in the EU and in Russia. In EU countries, according to ILO estimates, labor shortages are observed in the areas of manufacturing, construction and IT. The aged care, retail and transport sectors will also struggle to attract talent. In the Russian Federation, according to TsMAKP estimates, the number of unoccupied jobs now exceeds the number of economically active population by several million.

Anastasia Manuilova

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