February 2021 Future of Work Digest

Dear Readers,
My name is Iwona Połóg and starting from March 2021 I have a pleasure of taking responsibility for the further development of the Future of Work Institute. You are welcome to connect with me on my Linkedin or Twitter. Let me start with a short commentary on the most important events occurring within the gig economy from the last month.

Several important developments happened in February 2021 that may soon significantly influence the organization of work in Europe and America.

First of all, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers are Uber’s workers rather than self-employed contractors and are entitled to workers rights and protection. Following similar trends within European courts over the last few years. 

Additionally, the European Commission is initiating the first stage of consultation with social partners on improving the working conditions in platform work.  It is the start of a legislative process to regulate platform work in the EU.

Lastly, Uber published a white paper dedicated to the European market, calling other platforms operating in the EU to collaborate in the attempt to improve platform work together, with general recommendations of how they would like to proceed. 

In the meantime, in the US, the Biden administration froze the Department of Labor regulation related to classification of the platform workers. They plan to reevaluate it, possibly not in a way that will satisfy gig platforms.

All these February events clearly show that market regulations are currently shifting to the side of platform workers, not towards the benefit of the platforms. More details below.

Governmental Regulation and News

North America

United States
In the United States, the Biden Administration entered the White House and effectively halted a new Department of Labor initiative to define contractors. The new rule put forward by the DOL was to ease the process of determining a worker as self-employed by setting five factors an employee would have to meet. However, the Biden Administration is known to favor the ABC test utilized in the California Assembly Bill 5 and is likely to implement such measures in any further employment regulations to come.  


While in Europe, the European Union renewed their exchange of letters and updated their framework with the International Labor Organization on 4 February in their commitment to decent work and shaping the future of work. 

Shortly following on European Commission began a consultation process on 25 February with platforms and major stakeholders to determine the future of the gig economy within the union of nations. This directive is working to tackle the lack of regulation and definition with regards to the employment status and rights platform workers are entitled to as well as their ability to initiate and engage in collective bargaining agreements. 

United Kingdom

The UK Supreme Court rules Uber drivers are workers not self-employed. This ruling on 19 February rejected an appeal by Uber dating back to 2018 when the company faced a similar ruling from an employment tribunal. The UK Supreme Court took this stance after determining Uber to wield the majority of control in the platform-worker relationship. 

Just Eat Takeaway.com Chief Executive, Jitse Groen commented  the companies stance on platform work before the ruling saying, “We need clarification that platform jobs have always been what they are: jobs. In most countries it is merely a matter of enforcing the laws that already exist.”


Another initiative being seen in Europe is within Denmark as the nation has announced changes within their role of “tech ambassador” which has been working in Silicon Valley since 2017. In light of recent Big Tech moves, the country is taking a harder stance against tech giants and shifting the role from a commercial driven focus to one that incorporates a more values-based approach that will strive to hold platforms more accountable. 

“It’s very dangerous how quickly Facebook closed down news distribution in Australia … especially during a pandemic when trustworthy news is very important to people,” the country’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod Kofod said referencing the recent response of the social network giant banning Australian from sharing and viewing Australian and international news after the government proposed new media bargaining laws. 

Platform Updates

InstaCart is exploring opportunities to open robot-driven warehouses in an attempt to decrease their overhead as well as delivery times. 

Fiverr has announced its 2020 earnings showing a 77% jump from 2019, bringing in a revenue of $190 million.  

Uber published a white paper titled “A Better Deal” in which is announces its hopes to work with European lawmakers & stakeholders to maintain the flexibility of platform work while also providing protection.

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