Gig economy companies operating in the European Union, such as Uber and Deliveroo, must ensure workers get minimum wages, access to sick pay, time off and other labor rights in the framework of new draft laws aimed at cracking down on bogus self-employment.
Releasing a long-awaited bill on Thursday, the European Commission said the burden of proof on employment status would shift to companies, rather than the people who work for them. Until now, workers in the odd-job economy had to go to court to prove that they were employees, or risked being denied their basic rights.
Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, told the Guardian and other European newspapers that internet platforms “have used gray areas in our legislation [and] all possible ambiguities “to develop their economic models, leading to” misclassification “of millions of workers.
Companies that did not allow people to work for other companies, or that had rules on how and how to perform tasks, could be classified as employers, according to the proposals, according to the criteria used to determine employment status. The new rules would not apply to genuinely independent contractors.
In the 27 EU Member States, around 5.5 million workers are wrongly classified as self-employed, when they should be treated as employees with benefits and protection, such as accident insurance, according to the commission. Companies would only have to pay minimum wages, where they already exist. Around 28 million people work for platforms in the EU, but this figure is expected to rise to 43 million by 2025.
The proposals are an attempt to provide legal certainty, after European courts were asked to settle around 100 disputes relating to odd-job companies. France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal have tightened their national laws, but EU officials believe no government has fully addressed the problem.
Since Brexit, the UK government has no obligation to follow EU laws, while judges have been left to clarify labor law for a new generation of internet businesses. In 2016, a labor court ruled that Uber drivers were not self-employed and had to be paid minimum wage, a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in February.
Tim Sharp, senior labor rights policy officer at the Trade Union Congress, said there had been no “significant government intervention in the UK” to address what unions see as aspects abusive and problematic work on a platform.
“If the European Union is seen to take a robust approach to platform operators, I think there will be more pressure on the government here to take action to protect vulnerable workers. “, did he declare.
The EU’s proposals will be amended by national ministers and MEPs before they become law.
Schmit, a former labor minister in his native Luxembourg, said some services could cost “a little more”, but argued that consumer convenience should not come at the expense of workers.
Services, such as food delivery, were not free, he said. “I can’t consider if someone brings the pizza to my house at 11 at nightâ¦ that I don’t have to pay for it.” This is a service. And if it’s a service, the guy doing the service also has rights.
Under the directive, workers would also get rights to algorithms, to end situations where people are denied jobs, working hours or even layoffs due to machine decisions. Instead, workers would have the right to receive explanations and challenge automated decisions, while companies should ensure access to human contact for anything that would have a significant impact on the person.
Ludovic Voet, of the European Trade Union Confederation, said the directive should “signal the end of free for all” for companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and others. “For too long, platform companies have made huge profits by sidestepping their most basic obligations as employers to the detriment of workers while peddling the lie that they offer workers a choice,” a- he declared.
Companies in the odd-job economy have taken different approaches. Just Eat Takeaway, a Dutch company that is one of the world’s largest food delivery companies, announced last year that concert workers would become employees with benefits.
MoveEU, an organization representing ridesharing apps like Uber, argued that the EU’s action could cost jobs. âWork on platforms is very diverse and a single approach could weigh on the platform’s business model and ultimately negatively affect the many freelance workers who depend on it,â he said in a recent article.
George Maier, a digital technology specialist at the London School of Economics, said companies would have to adapt to stay in the markets. “For a lot of these platforms, because they realize their model isn’t profitable, there’s a big question about what change they can make and what change they can’t make.”
âWe have seen evidence of platforms trying to get around the tightening of laws by changing their business model. The alternative is to withdraw from a country where they do not see a profitable future.