The balance between flexibility, autonomous working and social protection has been a long time discussion within the gig economy and its complexities have kept legislators busy in recent years. As a result, the draft European Directive on Platform work is one of the most discussed topics of the year. It introduces various criteria which - if applicable - could result in a legal presumption of employment for the worker. In this year’s PwC Legal’s 2022 Gig Economy Report, we follow up on various legislative actions across several EU member states and the UK, regarding the platform economy.
As in previous years, the report provides an overview of how workers in the gig economy are currently classified. This year we’ve also added a section revealing the tax treatment of gig workers in these countries.
Even though these are still draft texts, several countries are following the European example of presumption of employment, including Belgium with its Labour Deal draft texts and the Rider Law in Spain. If the draft Directive enters into force, this will have a severe impact on the business model of platforms. Even the UK, which in principle would not be bound by the Directive, would need to be mindful of the rules due to remote workers based in the EU who may move from self-employed to employed status.
With the announcement of this years’ Labour Deal the Belgian government indicated its intention to introduce a legal presumption of employment for platform workers. Although the government is still working on the final draft, the first draft text indicates that working via a digital platform, where an algorithm exercises control over the way the services are provided and the terms and conditions of employment, could - if the predefined criteria are met - result in a legal presumption of employment.
The gig economy has not yet reached its full potential in Belgium but none-the-less, the industry has become a hot topic in many societal and political debates in light of flexible working trends on the labour market. The workforce is active but rarely appears in official statistics and we don’t know exactly how many gig workers are currently operating in Belgium.
Most gig economy platforms in Belgium focus on entry level jobs, which are performed by either students or low-skilled workers. The debate primarily focuses on the working conditions and social (security) status of the workers, especially the low-skilled ones.
"What we see happening in the gig economy could herald changes across the board in the labour market. If there is a widespread adoption of algorithmic systems and data-driven systems that decide how we need to perform our work and when and where we should work (beyond the gig or platform economy) in the broader labour market, we could be entering a new world of work. Undoubtedly, this new dynamic could give rise to additional employment opportunities as well as to increased efficiency. But there are two sides to every coin. Questions regarding transparency, company culture, social dialogue, accountability, biases and privacy, to name but a few, will need to be addressed. If we want this new way of working to be sustainable, we need to ensure that innovation and protection are reconciled."