Work on digital platforms: the turning point arrives with the EU

In an increasingly digitized era, we are witnessing a profound change in the way of socializing and relating, as well as making sales and purchases and any type of research. The web is in fact the magical place where all those things that previously required some effort or commitment, have now become simpler (or so it would seem).

Digital platforms are used for all purposes, even for serious issues such as finding work. In fact, there are numerous platforms that are used today both to offer work and to look for it, both in the form of a long-term full-time or part-time job, as well as assignments for limited periods. The latter have become very widespread, as workers make their own service available to a company or an individual, without future constraints.

Platform work has taken the name of gig economy, as workers are paid by the service rather than by the hour, and it has proved to be a golden opportunity for many people, especially during the period of pandemic, in which many people have lost their jobs. On the one hand, people could still have an income even without a stable job, or at least round up their salaries. On the other hand, companies have been able to have a wide range of workers on hand. This type of work offers more flexibility and more job opportunities, while also helping those who would have more difficulty entering traditional labor markets.

Thanks to these platforms, new job opportunities are constantly arising, even crossing borders and allowing many people to work from anywhere at any time.

But platform work does not only have positive sides. In fact, these platforms do not always guarantee acceptable working conditions and correct salaries, as well as management through algorithms that still need to be improved. This happens because it is a novelty to which the legislation has not yet adapted. The lack of protection for workers is a major problem that must be remedied as soon as possible, especially with regard to health and safety problems and social protection.

And that is why the EU has launched a consultation with social partners on the rights of platform workers. Trade unions and business organizations were invited to reach agreement in this area. The aim of this first phase was to collect different opinions on possible EU actions to improve working conditions in the digital platform sector.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President for Portfolio, said that the digital age opens the door to great opportunities for businesses, consumers and citizens. Platforms can help find a new job and experiment with new business ideas. At the same time, it is fundamental that our European values ​​are properly integrated into the digital economy. Making sure that these new forms of work remain sustainable and fair is crucial.

In the coming weeks it is plausible that a second phase will be launched to develop, according to the words of Commissioner for Labor and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, “a balanced initiative dedicated to working through digital platforms in the EU”.

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