workers on digital platforms will soon be able to be reclassified as employees
In the European Union, workers on digital platforms will soon be able to be reclassified as employees when necessary. The European Commission proposes five control criteria to define whether a platform is legally an employer or not. While the vast majority of platform workers are truly self-employed, nearly 5.5 million of them are, however, wrongly qualified as self-employed, according to European Commission estimates.
This status issue has become a sea serpent in recent years. The digital platform model is being challenged in more than one country, and some have already legislated on the issue. Like Spain, which recently recognized the status of employee for self-employed workers who participate in the “gig economy”.
Elsewhere, the tea towel burns. The Brussels Court of Appeal in particular recognized at the end of November the use of the Uber application as being illegal. Consequence: Uber had to close its Brussels platform on Friday, November 26, 2021, leaving thousands of drivers behind.
Faced with all these questions, the European Commission has decided to take the initiative, this Thursday, December 9, 2021, by presenting a draft directive on platform workers. What will happen to bicycle delivery men and VTC drivers in Europe with the introduction of this new text? The Commission would like platforms like Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo operating on the continent to respect the “presumption of wage employment” for their self-employed workers.
Labor law and social benefits at stake
The measures announced by the European Commission aim to “improve working conditions at work via a platform and promote sustainable growth of digital work platforms in the European Union,” said a Commission statement released on Thursday. .
The new rules should allow people who work through these platforms to “enjoy labor rights” as well as “social benefits to which they are entitled”, defends the Commission.
In addition, they will also benefit from “additional protection” with regard to the use of algorithmic management, specifies the text. Algorithmic management involves “automated systems that support or replace management functions at work,” the text says. Thus, the directive will in a way enhance transparency in the use of these algorithms, while creating a right to challenge automated decisions.
But above all, the directive introduces the presumption of wage employment for workers. These precarious workers will be granted the legal professional status corresponding to their actual working methods, on the basis of a list of five control criteria making it possible to determine whether or not the platform is considered as an “employer”. According to the proposed directive, a platform will be “legally presumed” as an employer if it meets at least two of the listed criteria.
As a result of these controls, workers who are re qualified as employees will be able to enjoy social rights and labor rights which derive from this status, such as the right to a minimum wage (where it exists), to collective bargaining, to protection of working time and health or even paid holidays.
However, an appeal is always possible. The platforms will have the right to challenge this qualification provided that they provide proof that there is no “employment relationship”.
Today, more than 28 million people in the EU work through digital work platforms, and that number could double by 2025 to 43 million. While the vast majority of platform workers are truly self-employed, nearly 5.5 million are mistakenly qualified as self-employed, according to European Commission estimates. This does not therefore concern a majority of cases, but it is a sufficiently important phenomenon to already be the subject of numerous legal actions in several countries.
Until then, the vagueness around independent status was settled in court. We remember, for example, in March 2020, the judgment of the Court of Cassation which proposed to reclassify for the first time in France as an employment contract the relationship between the company Uber and one of its drivers. Last February, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom also issued a landmark decision requiring Uber to give the status of salaried workers to its local drivers. In particular, the Court considered that the drivers were in a position of subordination and dependence vis-à-vis Uber.
Status is not the only aspect of platforms to be questioned. In the UK, Uber recently suffered another blow to its business model, which the UK High Court deemed illegal. The British court recognized that the platforms of vehicles circulating in London have a direct contractual relationship with customers, and thus do not just deal with establishing an intermediary connection. This decision could therefore have an impact on the prices of trips across the Channel.
Apple vs Epic: A reprieve for changing the rules of the App Store
Apple had asked that the change in the rules of the App Store not be applied before the end of the judgment. His request was ultimately granted. Apple can rejoice: an American court of appeal has accepted that the brand suspends any major modification of the conditions of use of its App Store, while the legal fight against Epic Games is not over.
As a reminder, in September the American justice ordered the iPhone manufacturer to remove from the App Store the rule prohibiting developers from adding in-app links to external payment sites. This Wednesday, the appeals court accepted Apple’s request to suspend this injunction until the trial is over.
The court of appeal justified its decision by explaining that Apple had demonstrated the merits of its appeal, also questioning the previous judicial decision: for the court, Apple’s behavior would not violate any antitrust law, but the California Unfair Competition Act.
The September injunction was part of a larger judgment, largely in favor of Apple. This mixed judgment is currently on hold, as both Apple and Epic Games have appealed the ruling.
Apple last month requested that the injunction be suspended, arguing that it would cause irreparable harm to its company and its customers. Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers then rejected this request, not convinced of the merits of these assertions. Apple then appealed against this refusal, which brought the case before another US court of appeal. The appeals court decision comes at the right time for Apple, as the injunction was due to go into effect today.
A long fight
It is important to note that the injunction decided by Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers has not been canceled. Its application is simply suspended, until an appeals court decides definitively whether the judgment handed down in September should remain in force.
The legal feud between the two companies began last year, when Fortnite was banned from Apple and Google’s app stores for introducing a new payment system that bypassed payment systems and buying commissions. tech giants. Shortly after being kicked out, Epic Games filed antitrust lawsuits against Apple and Google in several countries around the world.
Through these various lawsuits, the publisher Epic Games accuses the technological giants of carrying out anti-competitive and monopolistic practices, in particular because of their 30% commission structures.
The fight is long, and this case will therefore be the subject of a new round of hearings. The game publisher’s apps have been removed from the App Store for over 15 months.
Smartphones: Spending on mobile applications surges again in 2021
While 2020 was already a banner year for mobile app developers, 2021 is likely to take the market even higher. In 2021, spending on apps increased by 25% compared to last year, reaching $ 135 billion. The market shows no signs of slowing down, although developer rules for Apple and Google’s app stores and in-app payments have been under more scrutiny in recent months. As usual, the Apple App Store leads the app store in terms of revenue generated, while the Google Play Store leads in app downloads.
According to mobile analytics company App Annie, Apple raised $ 87.5 billion from iOS users in 2021, a 65% share of the $ 135 billion in total revenue generated by mobile apps, while Google Play raised $ 47.25 billion, despite a larger user base. Sensor Tower’s estimates for 2021 are slightly different, although they are in the same range: according to rival App Annie, spending on mobile applications reached $ 133 billion in 2021, an annual growth of 19.7% compared to 2020.
The two analyst firms questioned whether spending on mobile applications will decrease with the gradual lifting of restrictions linked to the pandemic. In other words, their answers should appeal to application developers. Sensor Tower estimates that App Store revenue will reach $ 85.1 billion in 2021, up 17.7% from 2020, while spending on Google Play will rise 23.5% to 47 , $ 9 billion, compared to $ 38.8 billion in 2020.
According to Sensor Tower, downloads from Google Play will exceed 100 billion by the end of 2021, compared to just over 30 billion for the App Store. Relative downloads from app stores align with the 70% to 30% market share split between Android and iOS devices in use around the world today.
Mobile games are popular
Mobile games continue to be the main driver of app spending on the App Store and Google Play. In 2021, these applications generated an amount of approximately 90 billion dollars. In fact, gamers are the top spenders across all categories of apps. They contribute around 60% of iOS revenue and nearly 80% of revenue generated on Google Play. The other big source of expense is entertainment and social app users. According to App Annie, entertainment apps are expected to reach $ 12 billion in 2022.