Regulating platform work: How will this impact migrant workers?

This is a joint project with the EPC. The study has been conducted by Andreina De Leo and Tommaso Grossi.

This Discussion Paper analyses the potential impact of the proposal for a Directive on the working conditions and rights of platform migrant workers. The Platform Directive presents a much-anticipated opportunity to guarantee that workers in the platform economy have proper access to labour rights and social benefits. However, having a more stringent regulatory framework does not necessarily translate into stronger and greater social protection for the most vulnerable individuals.

Migrant platform workers are vulnerable to double exploitation.

First, as platform workers, they cannot enjoy the protections that employment law provides.

Second, they can be subject to exploitation due to their migration and residence status, especially those who are undocumented. In this context, the positive impact of the proposed Directive will likely be limited by differences in bargaining power between migrant workers and platforms and by the well-founded fears of retaliation that some non-EU platform workers might face.

Therefore, strengthening protections will require targeted improvements to the proposed framework and further actions to remove structural barriers faced by migrant workers when accessing the labour market.

To further improve the EU’s actions in this area, the attention of policy makers should focus on three objectives: preserving or enhancing the positive elements in the original Commission’s proposal, ensuring that some of the key amendments put forward by the EP are given full effect in the future, and closing down other gaps in the broader EU policy framework.

This Paper offers six recommendations on how to move forward:

  1. Strike the right balance between retaining flexibility for genuine self-employed platform workers and enhancing protection through reclassification.
  2. Guarantee transparency and ensure non-discrimination in algorithmic management.
  3. Introduce effective measures against the risk of subcontracting and ensure the liability of subcontracting chains.
  4. Facilitate the involvement of civil society organisations with specific expertise on migrants’ rights as well as trade unions involved in defending the rights of platform workers to enhance the enforcement of rights and protections.
  5. Put in place binding measures to establish ‘firewalls’ for platform migrant workers who lodge complaints in the context of inspections by the labour authorities.
  6. Promote better access to the labour market for migrant workers and consider regularisation channels for undocumented migrants as the most effective way to prevent or fight exploitation.

Contact Persons

Dr. Inga Sabanova
Policy Officer


Future of Work

Cours Saint Michel 30a
1040 Brussels


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