European Commission adopts guideline

AG – 10/2022

The European Commission strengthens the rights of self-employed workers in the EU and adopted the Guideline on Collective Bargaining for Solo Self-Employed Workers on 29 September. This provides for associations of solo self-employed workers to be able to conduct collective bargaining in the future if they meet certain criteria. The European Commission's initiative is related to the Draft Directive for Platform Workers, which is expected to be adopted in 2023.

So far, EU competition law does not allow collective bargaining for self-employed workers. This is because, under EU competition law, self-employed persons count legally like companies, which are not allowed, for example, to fix prices among themselves. Thus, it has hardly been possible for solo self-employed workers to organise themselves as employees and negotiate collective agreements for better working conditions and wages.

Criteria for collective bargaining

The European Commission wants to change that. Competition law is now no longer to be applied to self-employed persons whose work situation can be compared to that of a dependent employee. According to the European Commission, this can be determined on the basis of three criteria:

  1. Economically dependent solo self-employed: This includes self-employed individuals who receive more than 50 per cent of their income from one contracting entity.
  2. Solo self-employed who work "alongside" employees: This includes self-employed persons who are responsible for the same or similar tasks as salaried employees of the contracting entity.
  3. Platform workers: This includes solo self-employed workers who work for a digital work platform.

Overlaps with platform work

The draft guidelines for collective bargaining for solo self-employed workers, like the draft directive for platform workers, are part of the Package of Measures on Platform Employment presented on 9 December 2021. Both projects aim to improve the working conditions of platform workers. However, while the draft Directive only targets employees at digital work platforms, the draft guidelines include all solo self-employed workers - regardless of which company is the contracting entity.

DSV welcomes collective bargaining for the self-employed

The European Commission has already launched the first steps for the initiative on collective bargaining for the self-employed in June 2020. The DSV has announced in a position paper its support for the European Commission's proposal and affirmed that collective bargaining is an important instrument for better working conditions as well as for the health and safety at work of the self-employed.