How is Platform economy being regulated?

While digital labour platforms prefer to designate the platform economy workers as “independent contractors”, the workers’ rights groups are of the view that considering the control of these platforms over the workers, these workers should be treated as employees. Treating these workers as independent contractors saves the platforms (firms) a lot of costs related to wage and working hours as well as social security related contributions (including occupational injury benefits, old age pension, unemployment benefits, healthcare, etc.).  

The relationship is generally managed through provisions of civil code where workers are considered independent contractors.

New York City has enacted “Freelance is not Free Act” in 2016. The Act establishes and enhances protections for freelance workers, specifically the right to a written contract; timely and full payment as well as protection from retaliation.

The El Khomri law in France, passed in 2016, tries to regulate certain aspects of platform economy and protect the rights of the workers. The legislation requires the digital platforms to provide work injury insurance as well as right to continued professional training. The platform workers can from and join a trade union and also take collective action (strikes).

In a December 2017 decision, the European Court of Justice has declared Uber as a “service in the field of transport”, thus it is subject to national regulations. The European Union is also working on a directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union. The directive specifically includes platform workers.2

The Fair Work Commission (Australia’s industrial relations tribunal), has recently concluded in two cases that that Uber the drivers were independent contractors and thus could not bring unfair dismissal claims under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Nearly all states in the USA have enacted Uber related (transport services) laws in the last four years. These laws treat Uber and other ride hailing service drivers as “independent contractors”.  

The Uber Eats is providing free insurance package for its independent couriers delivering food business in nine European markets (Austria, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK).3