The role of European institutions in promoting decent work in the 'collaborative economy'
This chapter aims at discussing the European approach to regulating the so-called “collaborative economy”, by looking at the main legislative initiatives regarding this set of fast-growing digital companies. Despite the potential efficiencies and benefits for customers, more recently, a counter-narrative has started revealing the “broken promise” of managing a contingent workforce mobilised on a “just in time” and “just in case” basis. The second section briefly describes the “collaborative economy” landscape and the dissemination of the heterogeneous category of “non-standard forms of employment” in the European scenario. The third section discusses the Uber case, the most visible symptom of a consolidated tendency towards fragmentation of the once solid relationship between the worker and the employing entity. In this respect, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice on the nature of the service provided by the “transport platform” is analysed in depth. The fourth section investigates the European communications and resolutions which adapt the current legal framework and provide guidelines for regulating work in the collaborative economy, namely the Communication on the European agenda for the collaborative economy, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and other Parliamentary initiatives. The study is based on a theoretical and descriptive methodology. This chapter concludes by recommending a cautious regulatory approach. It has been highlighted that many online platforms are still in their business “infancy”, and experts genuinely do not know how they will develop. Consequently, legislative headlong rushes may end up crystallising the present state of the art, thus hindering “peripheral” entrepreneurial initiatives and blocking innovation. Surgical regulatory interventions shall help platform companies to adjust and improve their business model, in order to enter a new phase of “shared social responsibility”.
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