Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 February 2022
The classification of the relationship between platforms and app-based workers is not governed by any Belgian-specific regulation. Ordinary law rules are therefore the only ones that qualify this relationship. A specific piece of legislation concerned almost exclusively the taxation of the income made through platforms and the social charges. It did not regulate the relationship between workers and the platform. This legislation will be presented in brief.
This chapter starts by discussing the importance of the phenomenon of platform workers in Belgium (section 1) before turning to the classification of the work relationship by case law (section 2) and by statutory law (section 3) and addressing legislative projects (section 4). Before concluding, a short section presents, in a few words, the organisation of the defence of platform workers’ interests (section 5).
However, before going further, a brief observation is needed. Belgium is a federal state. Consequently, the competence regarding the regulation of online platforms is shared between the federal and federate levels of power. Regulations of cab companies, for example, fall within federate jurisdiction. As far as social law is concerned, the competences remain predominantly federal, which is why focus will be put on this level of power.
IMPORTANCE OF THE PHENOMENON OF PLATFORM WORKERS IN BELGIUM
There is no official statistical data with regard to the number of workers involved in the platform economy. There is unofficial and incomplete data , which dates back to 2019: for a population of just over 11 million inhabitants, the number of Uber drivers was estimated to be between 500 and 2000 and the number of Deliveroo riders was estimated to be around 2,600. These are mere approximations. In the meantime, bicycle delivery companies have multiplied and developed their activity in more and more cities, so that the actual figures are in fact different.
The sectors of activities are very varied if one looks at the platforms’ websites (gardening, dog-sitting, shopping, baby-sitting, cleaning, language teaching, etc.).