Gig Working, Platform companies and the future: A global perspective from CMS employment lawyers in 16 countries


State authorities and courts are weighing in on the power of the Gig Economy: What will the outcome be?

Few forms of employment have impacted the modern economies of the western world as profoundly as Gig work and platform services. Platform companies such as Uber in transportation, Uber Eats in food retail, Airbnb and Couchsurfing in accommodation, PeoplePerHour in online freelancing, and countless others have attracted millions of workers internationally to serve customers in almost every major service sector of the global economy. According to the European Commission, around 11 percent of the workforce in the EU has now worked over a platform at least once. Competitively priced and easy to access for both workers and customers, platform services have grown exponentially in popularity, which has prompted the courts, politicians and state authorities of some countries to take a closer look at their impact.

Despite or perhaps because of the rapid spread of these flexible forms of work, major issues and legal questions remain unresolved, including the perception that Gig work fosters precarious employment relationships with no protection in the event of illness or a fluctuating workload. In late February 2021, the UK Supreme Court ruled that British Uber drivers were not freelancers, as many Gig workers consider themselves, but actual company employees.

This ruling prompted the EU's European Commission to launch a consultation to determine whether Gig workers should be considered employees of the platforms they are affiliated with. In this article, CMS employment law experts from 16 jurisdictions to analyse the legal implications of platform work in their home countries.

Central to the question of how improvements and harmonisation can be implemented is the legal assessment of platform work. If a platform worker qualifies as an employee, this in many countries means continued payment of remuneration in the event of illness, comprehensive occupational health and safety provisions, protection against dismissal, social security coverage, etc. The classification of platform work must be made after weighing a wide variety of indicators in each inpidual case. It is therefore not possible to make blanket statements about specific fields of activity. In fact, numerous professions can be performed either on a self-employed basis or through dependent employment. In inpidual jurisdictions, these questions are answered in a similar way, but can vary in detail, as our article shows.

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