abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

20 Jan 2023

Human Rights Watch

EU: Human Rights Watch urges urges EU member states to reject efforts to weaken safeguards against tech-driven exploitation in platform workers directive

"EU: Pass Directive to Protect Workers’ Rights", 9. January 2023

Reject Efforts to Weaken Safeguards Against Tech-Driven Exploitation

(Brussels) – The European Union should pass legislation that will bolster wage and labor protections for ride-share drivers, delivery riders, and other people working for digital labor platforms, Human Rights Watch said today. In December 2022, the European Parliament’s Employment Committee adopted amendments to the Platform Work Directive that represent the EU’s best effort yet to curb employment misclassification in the sector and develop world-leading safeguards against the abusive potential of workplace automation.

“Clear and strong rules against employment misclassification are needed to protect the rights of millions of workers who toil daily to provide essential services,” said Amos Toh, senior technology and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “EU lawmakers should also make clear that they will not tolerate the use of opaque and unaccountable technology to exploit workers.” [...]

Human Rights Watch supports the compromise text adopted by the European Parliament’s Employment Committee, which would advance rights-respecting regulation of the digital platform work sector, and urges EU member states to endorse a similar approach. The Commission has counted 516 platforms operating across the Union, with taxi and delivery services capturing the biggest market share. It estimates that about 28 million people work for these platforms, and that this number will grow to 43 million by 2025. [...]

To rebut the presumption of employment, the compromise text would require platforms to establish that workers are both free from their “control and direction” while performing services for them, and also provide similar services independent of the platform. Human Rights Watch has found that several major platforms employ a range of technologies and behavioral strategies to manage and control workers, while maintaining the illusion that they work independently.

The Parliament’s position on the directive lists some of these features, such as the use of opaque algorithms to assign work and calibrate pay, and ratings systems that reward or penalize workers’ performance, as indications of the app’s “control and direction” that affirm the presumption of an employment relationship.

The directive would also draw clear red lines on the use of automated decision-making to monitor and penalize platform workers. It would prohibit platforms from delegating decisions to terminate, suspend, or otherwise restrict workers’ accounts to automated systems, requiring instead that such decisions be governed by national law, or that workers and platforms reach a collective agreement on the appropriate framework for such decisions. It would also bar platforms from requiring workers to submit to facial recognition and other biometric identification checks to access their work accounts.

Requiring platforms to comply with national law or collective bargaining agreements on dismissals would mitigate the threat of abrupt and harmful disruptions to workers’ livelihoods. Worker Info Exchange, a UK-based workers’ rights group, has found that many ride-share drivers are being unfairly dismissed after their employer’s anti-fraud algorithms incorrectly assume that drivers with two mobile devices are fraudulently sharing their account. [...]