30 september 2022
Platform work is the matching of demand and supply of paid work through an online platform using an algorithmRead more
Platform work is the matching of demand and supply of paid work through an online platform using an algorithm. Three parties are involved in the matching process: the client demanding work, the platform which manages the algorithm and the person who provides the work through the platform. It is work based on the performance of individual tasks or projects rather than a continuous employment relationship. A larger task is usually divided up into smaller subtasks, or ‘micro tasks’, that are independent, homogenous and contribute to producing a specific output. These tasks are carried out separately, resulting in a widespread, even global, division of tasks.
- Eurofound Talks podcast: Episode 9 - Platform work
- Infographic: How is platform work changing the labour market?
In January 2020, the Commission outlined its policy priorities for 2019–2024, one of which is to create ‘a Europe fit for the digital age’. In its Communication on building a strong social Europe for just transitions, the Commission highlighted the need for improved working conditions of platform workers. On 10 March 2020, the Commission presented its New industrial strategy for Europe, which plans for an initiative on improving the working conditions of platform workers. This objective is mirrored in the Commission’s subsequent work programmes.
Under the Action plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, adopted on 5 March 2021, the Commission planned to present a legislative proposal on improving the working conditions of platform workers. After consultations with the social partners, on 9 December 2021, the Commission proposed a directive to protect the rights and improve the working conditions of platform workers.
The proposed directive has three core pillars:
- The correct classification of employment status of platform workers through the establishment of a rebuttable presumption of employment based on five control criteria
- Increasing the transparency and accountability of decisions taken by algorithmic management systems
- Improving enforcement, transparency and traceability of work done through online platforms
Attached to the proposal for a directive, the Commission also launched a consultation on draft guidelines on the application of EU competition law to collective agreements of solo self-employed people.
The 2019 EU regulations on platform-to-business relations aim to create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for smaller businesses and traders when using online platforms.
As part of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Directive 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions also covers platform work. In November 2019, the Council also adopted the Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed, including reference to platform workers. In June 2016, the Commission adopted its European Agenda for the Collaborative Economy, clarifying the concept of platform work and providing guidance on the employment status of platform workers.
- European Commission: New industrial strategy for Europe
- European Commission: Commission proposals to improve the working conditions of people working through digital labour platforms
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
- European Commission: Platform-to-business trading practices
- European Commission: Transparent and predictable working conditions
- European Commission: Council Recommendation on access to social protection – making social protection systems fit for the future
- European Commission: Collaborative economy
Eurofound research on new forms of employment across the EU identified platform work as one of nine employment forms that are gaining increasing importance since 2000.Read more
Eurofound research on new forms of employment across the EU identified platform work as one of nine employment forms that are gaining increasing importance since 2000. As platform work continues to grow and diversify, ongoing research looks at the employment and working conditions of selected types of platform work.
Eurofound is also focusing on assessing the effectiveness of policy initiatives to tackle identified challenges related to platform workers’ employment and working conditions.
Key topics relate to the representation of platform workers, negotiation of working conditions, provision of insurance and social protection or taxation. The Agency will continue to monitor the evolution of the platform economy through its web repository.
Typology of platform work
Eurofound has identified 10 types of platform work that as of 2017 have reached some critical mass in Europe as regards the number of platforms and affiliated active workers. The main differences between these types are in the scale of tasks, the format of service provision (whether the tasks are delivered locally or online), the level of skills required, the process by which client is matched to worker (offer of work versus contest) and the party that determines the work allocation.
Regularly updated information on the platform economy
An online platform economy repository, compiled by Eurofound, aims to bring together a range of information on this subject. It includes more detail on Eurofound’s typology of platform work, a range of dossiers offering analysis and context on key issues emerging in the platform economy, as well as a range of initiatives aiming to tackle emerging issues. The repository also provides specific information related to platform work and COVID-19.
Eurofound has also carried out a mapping of studies measuring the platform economy, which outlines the methods used and their limitations, and discusses the options to address data gaps.
With a forward-looking approach, Eurofound developed scenarios of how platform work in Europe could look by 2030, and the likely implications on the economy, labour market and society. These ‘potential futures’ indicate the opportunities and risks of the various development pathways and also put forward what policy could do to realise desirable and avoid undesirable futures.Read less
Key outputs over the years
- While small in scale, platform work has been dynamically developing in the past 15 years and is expected to continue doing so in the future. Extending the knowledge base and generating reliable estimates on an ongoing basis will help to inform policymaking in this area.
- Platform work is a heterogeneous phenomenon. Different types of platform work result in different effects on employment, working conditions and the labour market.
- High on the present agenda is the employment status of platform workers and their potential misclassification. Employment status is important as it affects workers’ rights and entitlements, including access to social security and minimum wages.
- Emerging issues that are specific to platform work relate to, for example, transparency of algorithmic management and control, fairness and portability of ratings, cross-border aspects, competition law and consumer protection.
- While it is important to discuss the challenges related to platform work, the opportunities inherent in this employment form and business model should also be acknowledged. Examples refer to the potential contribution of platform work to labour market integration of disadvantaged groups, flexibility to organise work, access to a large client base and generation of additional income especially during economic downturns. However, little is known about how these opportunities are realised, and how they vary for each type of platform work and worker profile.
- Empirical assessments should aim to give an accurate and up-to-date picture of the fast-growing economy revolving around online platforms. These should investigate the different ramifications of platform work touching on a variety of policy areas, including business competition, tax evasion, data protection and consumer protection.
- Management practices dominant in the platform economy are increasingly used in the broader economy. The ‘platformisation’ of work is an emerging phenomenon which needs further research and policy attention.
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (29)
- Ongoing work
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.
Other ongoing work
- Platform economy repository – regular updates to the online databases