EU – Proposals for the recognition of gig economy employees as employees


The slogan “we are workers and not partners” shouted by e-food deliverers in their recent victorious protests seems to have been accepted by the EU, which is trying to regulate its Wild West. gig economy.

The examples are well known, most notably Uber, and the business model public: employees are treated as freelancers working through the platform and not as dependent on the company that employs them.

What changes does the bill introduce?

But if the EU bill is passed, companies operating in the Union will have to ensure that their employees receive at least the basic salary, have the opportunity to take sick leave and regular leave without losing their wages, and have access to to all the employment rights provided for employees.

The long-awaited bill was published today, Thursday, and the Commission stressed that the main difference it introduces is that it shifts the burden of proving the type of work to companies instead of the people employed by them. Until now, workers in the so-called gig economy have had to prove in court that they are employed or otherwise accept that they will work in the absence of even their most basic rights.

Gray belts end?

Nicholas Smith, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, told reporters that the platforms “have taken advantage of the gray areas of our legislation and all possible ambiguities” to develop their business models, resulting in millions of employees have been misclassified. “

In the 27 EU Member States, around 5.5 million workers are labeled “self-employed” without realizing it. Because of this, they do not have access to the privileges and protections they are entitled to as employees, such as accident insurance, according to the committee. Companies will now be required to pay a minimum wage, provided it exists in the country in which they operate.

There are currently around 28 million people working on platforms across the EU, with the number expected to reach 43 million by 2025.

The proposals seek to create legal certainty, as European courts are currently called upon to settle about 100 cases related to the issue. Greece, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have already introduced stricter legislation, but European officials say no government has taken enough action to address the problem.

Member States’ ministers and parliamentarians will re-draft the EU proposals before their final vote.

Rising prices – but also rights

Smith, a former labor minister in Luxembourg, said some services could cost “a little more” if the bill were passed, but said consumer comfort should not be at the expense of workers.

Services such as food distribution are not free, he stressed. “I do not believe if someone brings me a pizza at 11 pm at my house, I do not have to pay for it. This is a service. And since it is a service, the person who performs it also has rights. “

People vs Algorithms

Under the new directive, employees will also gain rights to algorithms, in order to avoid cases where people lose jobs and working hours or are even fired by machine decisions. Instead, employees will have the right to receive explanations and challenge any automated decision, and companies will be required to ensure they have access to employees, for anything that could have a significant impact on them.

Companies that do not allow their employees to work for other companies or have rules for the appearance and execution of work, will be considered employers, based on the new proposals.

Ludovic Voet, of the European Trade Federation, said the bill would “mark the end of everything allowed” for companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and others. “For a long time, platforms have been making huge profits by avoiding their most basic obligations as employers to the detriment of workers, while perpetuating the lie that they are giving workers a choice,” he told the Guardian.

Some gig economy companies, however, have taken a different stance – you have heard.

Will the platforms survive?

For its part, MoveEU, a body representing passenger transport applications such as Uber, has argued that the EU bill would cost jobs. “Working on the platforms is very diverse and an approach that is common to all can burden their business model and ultimately negatively affect many of the self-employed people who rely on them,” she said in a recent article.

George Meyer, a digital technology specialist at LSE, told the Guardian that companies would have to adapt to stay in the European market. “For many of these platforms, because they realize that their model is not profitable, there is the question of what changes they can and cannot make.”

“We have seen cases of platforms trying to circumvent stricter legislation by changing their business model. “The alternative is to leave a country where they do not see a profitable future.”

Workers on platforms around the world, however, do not seem willing to continue working without labor rights.

With information from the Guardian  

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