Members of European Parliament have agreed on the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions (TPWC). Although a part of the media has announced it as a legislation that mainly addresses on-demand platforms work, the TPWC Directive aims to grant minimum rights to employees that operate under atypical forms of work. However, the text excludes self-employed workers, those that operate without exclusivity and with freedom to determine their working hours; the model on which Glovo activity is based.
Despite not fitting in the purpose of the Directive, this is the kind of regulatory guidance that digital platforms have been waiting for. The proposal is a huge opportunity for Member States to innovate on regulation and set up a regulatory framework that adapts and protects new forms of work. It opens the door to regulations that protect workers in accordance with their reality and needs, regardless of the type of activity and how it is carried out. As set in the Directive text itself: granting minimum rights while maintaining reasonable flexibility of non-standard employment, thus preserving its benefits to workers and employers.
Every progress impacts the world of labour:the steam engine, electricity, the diesel engine, automation. Today it’s data. Mobile data allows us to aggregate small individual preferences into bigger markets of supply and demand, creating a more fluid work market. If a small town needs 1 delivery per day from a pizza place, a pharmacy, a ticket agency and a flower shop, neither will hire a courier full time. However, data allows them to aggregate courier needs into a 4 “gigs” per day, thus creating economic activity and a role with the equivalent income of a part-time occupation.
On the one hand, more work is available on demand than ever before. On the other hand, new forms of work do not fit pre-existing industrial-era definitions and schemes. Therefore, it’s not the nature of work or the nature of technology that must be changed, but regulations. The question is not IF we accept some things may be changing, but HOW we do so to preserve the rights of those doing new work; and this Directive is setting the scene on how we should address the how.
Regulations, as the Directive points out, must match a changing reality rather than shoehorn a new economy into pre-existing formats that will just kill opportunity. The incoming TPWC Directive is a good start by the EU in the direction of updating work frameworks for several reasons: it creates standards for occasional work; it implicitly and explicitly recognises self-employment and temporary work as needed and different from full employment; it starts the conversation on how to structure the benefits and requirements of such work (right to be informed, right to refuse, etc).
The outgoing national regulations that will emanate from the guidelines set by the Directive will strongly impact Member States’ current and future labour markets. As part of the change taking place in it, we look forward to actively taking part of this conversation.