12 November 2020
Platform work uses an online platform to enable organisations or individuals to access other organisations or individuals to solve specific problems or to provide specific services in exchange for payment.Read more
Platform work uses an online platform to enable organisations or individuals to access other organisations or individuals to solve specific problems or to provide specific services in exchange for payment. 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 produce a specific output. These tasks are carried out separately, resulting in a widespread, even global, division of tasks.Read less
Across the EU, many different terms are used to refer to platform-based activity. For example, the European Commission and Parliament often refer to the ‘sharing economy’ or ‘collaborative economy’.Read more
Across the EU, many different terms are used to refer to platform-based activity. For example, the European Commission and Parliament often refer to the ‘sharing economy’ or ‘collaborative economy’. However, these terms comprise a broader scope of online activities, going beyond paid work to encompass the trade of material or capital goods as well as non-commercial activities.
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. The European Pillar of Social Rights, officially proclaimed in November 2017, aims to address some of the policy challenges associated with new forms of employment, including platform work. As part of the Pillar’s roll-out initiatives, in June 2019 the European Parliament and Council announced the new Directive 2019/1152 on transparent and predictable working conditions, which 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.
New EU regulations on platform-to-business relations entered into force in July 2019. The new rules aim to create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for smaller businesses and traders when using online platforms. The EU also set up a dedicated Online Platform Observatory to monitor the evolution of the market and the effective implementation of these rules.
In its January 2020 Communication on building a strong social Europe for just transitions, the Commission highlights the need for improved working conditions of platform works for the sustainable growth of the platform economy. This objective is mirrored in the Commission’s work programme 2020, adjusted in May in response to COVID-19.
- European Commission: Collaborative economy
- European Commission: European Pillar of Social Rights
- 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: Platform-to-business trading practices
- European Commission: Communication and Annex on a Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions
- European Commission: 2020 Commission Work Programme – key documents
Eurofound research on emerging or 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 emerging or 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, further research looks at the employment and working conditions of selected types of platform work.
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 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 competition) and the party that determines the work allocation.
More 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, a database of publications, as well as a range of initiatives aiming to tackle emerging issues. The repository now 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 should be considered to realise desirable and avoid undesirable futures.
In the above audiogram, Irene Mandl speaks to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research on labour market change and the future of work in the context of COVID-19.
Key outputs over the years
- While small in scale, platform work has been dynamically developing in the last decade 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. Read more
- While small in scale, platform work has been dynamically developing in the last decade 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.
- There is some heterogeneity within platform work. Different types of platform work result in different effects on 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.
- Emerging issues that are specific to platform work relate to, for example, labour market opportunities versus employment quality, 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, income generation and fostering entrepreneurial spirit, legalising undeclared work or the development of rural areas. However, little is known about whether these examples can be realised, and potential unintended negative side-effects need to be explored.
- Measurements should aim to give a broad picture of the fast-growing economy revolving around online platforms. These will investigate the different ramifications of platform work touching on a variety of policy areas, including business competition, tax evasion, data protection and consumer protection.
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (22)
- Ongoing work (2)
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