In late October, Portugal edged closer to approving similar legislation as part of a package of bills to regulate temporary and informal work, including via digital platforms and the gig economy. However, a week later Portugal's president announced plans to dissolve parliament after the national assembly rejected the government's proposed 2022 budget. The bill now awaits final parliamentary approval, which will only resume after the results of the general election on 30 January.
Like Spain’s Rider Law, if approved, the bill would bring another part of the workforce under social security protections, but there are concerns about its broader impact on Portugal’s employment landscape. ‘This will be left for the next government to legislate on,’ says Nuno Ferreira Morgado, co-head of the employment and labour practice at PLMJ Advogados in Lisbon, ‘but I can't exclude the possibility of many of these companies leaving the Portuguese market.’
The government enacted this legislation to avoid thousands of cases that might come up in the future after the Supreme Court decision
Juan Bonilla Blasco
Co-Chair, IBA Employment and Industrial Relations Law Committee
He says there’s little market appetite for legislative change in Portugal, where to date there has been no contentious litigation in this area. ‘My concern is also that we don't actually need this legislation to apply the employment status to these employees because we already have the legislation in the Labour Code that covers all this and establishes legal presumptions sufficient enough to assess or assert whether or not these are employees or independent contractors,’ he says.
Ferreira Morgado views the bill as an ‘imported trend’ from European countries like Spain and The Netherlands, where the growing litigation caseload has even prompted the European Commission to launch a public consultation on the ‘working conditions of platform workers’. He argues that, instead of enacting sweeping legislation, the UK’s case-by-case basis approach provides a ‘more balanced’ assessment of the needs of workers.
In June, Deliveroo General Counsel Chantelle Zemba told the IBA’s In-House Perspective magazine that she welcomed the UK’s Court of Appeal’s approach – which differed from other jurisdictions by classifying the company’s workers as self-employed. The judgment contrasted with a UK Supreme Court ruling four months earlier, which upheld a 2016 employment tribunal ruling that classified Uber drivers as workers, not self-employed contractors. Zemba says Deliveroo’s priority was about ‘operating the best model for our riders’ and ‘the model that gives them the most flexibility.’ Many digital platforms suggest that workers relish the freedom of working flexibly.