Minister: Estonia does not support EU platform work directive amendments

Food couriers.
Food couriers. Source: ERR

Estonia does not support amendments to a European Union directive, a government minister says, which would regulate the employment of workers on platform apps such as Bolt and Wolt, on the grounds that it does not go far enough in ensuring legal clarity.

The Platform Worker Directive would be amended to, inter alia, introduce a legal presumption of employment on the part of self-employed platform workers, and is an effort to crystallize exactly what platform work actually is, from an EU perspective.

Minister of Economy and IT Tiit Riisalo (Eesti 200) says, that Estonia supports the directive in terms of its philosophy of improving the conditions for platform work and increase transparency in the algorithmic management of same. 

However, an employment contract should not be presupposed for self-employed workers, Riisalo added.

In any case, according to Riisalo, the directive increases legal uncertainty for both platforms and workers.

Riisalo said: "Estonia supports dignified working conditions for people working on such platforms, but at the same time, these must also be given a chance to further develop modern and flexible forms of working. As a result, it cannot be considered reasonable to regulate platform work but in a way which does not ensure sufficient legal clarity."

The directive in its current format fails to meet these goals, he said

"The proposed solution as it is now could be considered complex, and this rather promotes the incorrect definition of independent workers, along with greater fragmentation within the EU common market," he added.

According to the platform work directive draft, which has been in the pipeline for two years, EU member states should establish a legal basis whereby there would be an employment contract between platform and the platform worker, when the platform controls certain elements of the work performance. 

If the platform fulfills three of the seven criteria: for example, determines the amount of salary, monitors the quality of work and limits the freedom to choose working times, then the agreement constitutes a working employment contract.

On the basis of the text approved Monday, the Spain's presidency of the Council of the EU will start negotiations with the European Parliament, with an aim to reach agreement ahead of the European Parliamentary elections a year hence.

Spain takes on the Council of the EU presidency for its six-month term on July 1, taking over from Sweden.

In addition to the draft platform work directive, the ministers reached an agreement on the reduction of lead and diisocyanate limit values – carcinogens whose limits are being tightened following new scientific data and in order to better protect the health of workers, and reduce the risk of occupational illness.

At the same time, the ministers also approved two directives on equality bodies, which aim to harmonize the activities of such organizations, and increase their autonomy, in order to deal more effectively with the problem of discrimination in Europe. 

So far as Estonia is concerned, this pertains to the activities of the gender equality and equal treatment commissioner (currently Christian Veske-ed.).

ERR reports that many of the requirements set out in the latest directives have already been met in Estonia in any case.

The European Parliament in February this year voted in favor of amendments to the European Commission's Platform Worker Directive, amendments which would introduce a legal presumption of employment for self-employed platform workers and greater transparency regarding how artificial intelligence is used in this sector.

The most well-know platforms in Estonia are Bolt, Wolt and Fudy, all of which provide food courier services, while Bolt also provides taxi-ride services. The directive pertains to the relationship between companies like these and couriers and taxi-drivers who use the platforms to get work.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

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