Platform workers soon to be employees?
Spain prepares law to clarify status, whereas Serbia also demands retroactive taxes and contributions.
Dr. S-W – 03/2021
September 29, 2020, the Madrid-based Spanish supreme court ruled that drivers
for platform-based delivery services such as Deliveroo or Glovo should be
considered employees of the respective platform operator. Since then it has
become clear that the legislators must react. What is less clear is how. It is
not only the operators who are trying to "limit the damage” from their
point of view. There are also differing opinions as to how things should now
proceed on the part of those affected. The two main Spanish trade unions, CC.OO
and UGT have taken the ruling as an opportunity to call for protection to be
extended beyond drivers to all forms of electronic platform work. On the other
side, there are a number of drivers who want to remain independent so they can
freely decide when and for whom they work. For their part, they have now formed
associations, the largest of which are AAR and APRA.
insist on being included in the government's negotiations with trade unions and
employers. Basically, an agreement seems to have been reached to a large
extent. This is aimed at a broader inclusion of all delivery services in the
employee status, beyond the delivery of food to include the delivery of other
goods. However, at the same time, there are indications that the legislative
initiative is being exhausted here as purely online-based activities (e.g.
"click-work") are being left out.
"platform work" issue is also causing unrest in Serbia, albeit in a
very different way. The number of platform workers there is estimated to be
about 100,000. However, it is not so much a matter of defining who is dependent
on them and who is self-employed. The majority is neither, or in more specific
terms: 2/3 of those concerned are simply not registered, and the remaining third
have registered as self-employed. The 2/3 previously mentioned neither pay
taxes nor social security contributions, which they would actually be obliged
to do as self-employed people, at least for pension and health. This eventually
came to the attention of the tax authorities when they began to investigate
incoming payments from abroad more closely.
October 2020, they began to retroactively claim up to 4 years of contributions.
The response of the platform workers was to immediately form an association
that sent a "last-ditch letter" to government leaders. First, they
want to obtain a waiver of additional claims until their status is clarified.
The "freedom" of the self-employed has its price in Serbia. Not only
do they pay twice as much in social security contributions as their employed
colleagues as they have to pay the employer's contribution themselves. They are
also not entitled to sickness, maternity or unemployment benefits. However, the
Finance Minister let the defaulters know that they will have to pay the tax and
contributions in arrears - irrespective of their future status. There is a lot
at stake: The arrears can add up to the equivalent of up to 2,000 euros per
year - the equivalent of five months' average wages.