Just as platforms operate globally, so the controversy surrounding the status of platform workers is also globalised. In this regard, France is no exception. At the time of writing, the debate is far from over. In order to provide the best possible account of the state of French law, two clarifications are needed. Firstly, a mapping of the various types of work needs to be prepared. Using the same tool (i.e. a digital application) could lead to a uniform consideration of all the platforms. Doctrinal work, as well as that of state bodies, has been undertaken in this respect. Some platforms, known as collaborative platforms, facilitate disinterested exchanges between individuals (scientific exchange platforms or voluntary work platforms). Other platforms allow for the exchange of goods and services in return for a payment (sale of old furniture, carpooling, etc.). Among these platforms, some offer non-standardised services (e.g. Malt) and act as intermediaries between clients and service providers, such as entrepreneurs, craftsmen and artists, with the latter using the platform to increase their clientele. Other platforms, which pose certain problems regarding the status of workers, offer, thanks to digital tools, a service provided by workers whose activities are supervised. This chapter will focus here on the latter category, that is, work platforms.
The second clarification touches upon a social inventory of fixtures. Given the diversity of activities that can be organised numerically, as well as platforms and employee statuses, it is difficult to produce figures. However, it is estimated that 0.8% of the population in active employment and 7% of self-employed individuals use platforms in the exercise of their functions. This percentage is increasing. Between May 2016 and April 2020, the supply and demand for work on freelancing platforms increased by about 60%. The popularity of work platforms, on the one hand, and the deteriorating situation of platform workers, on the other, and which has been made even more visible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has made the need for regulation even more urgent.
Initially political and doctrinal, the controversy over the status of workers on work platforms has had a judicial and legislative dimension. Since the Loi Travail of 8 August 2016, a battle has been waging between the legislature and the judiciary.