The European Union’s plan to promote Gig economic employees is the latest blow to applications

A plan by the European Union to improve conditions for a growing number of contract economy workers could mean millions of them being placed in the employee benefits category. is the latest setback for digital platforms that rely on independent contractors to deliver food and deliver ride services.

The draft rules released on Thursday aim to clarify the employment status of people employed by app-based companies such as ride-hailing service Uber and food delivery business Deliveroo and will add monitor the algorithms they use to manage workers.

The workers and foundation of the Gig economy have fallen between the rifts of existing employment laws and measures being considered by the 27-nation bloc, which will take years to come into force, aimed at erasing those that gray area.
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App-based gig work platforms have exploded in the digital economy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as demand for food delivery services has mushroomed. Apps provide short-term work to millions of people, but their proliferation has also led to inappropriate traditional labor and business models, leading to disagreements between companies and agencies. management worldwide. Gig’s job flexibility is a highlight for many, but workers also complain that they end up earning less than minimum wage after accounting for expenses.

Under European Union rules, which still need to be approved by the European Parliament, a foundation that meets at least two criteria will be considered an “employer” and people working for that company will be reclassified as “employees” with the right to minimum wages, vacation pay, unemployment and sickness benefits, pensions and other benefits.

Criteria include whether an application determines how much to pay; electronic monitoring of work efficiency; restrict workers’ freedom to choose working hours, accept work or use subcontractors; order the appearance and conduct of an employee with the customer; or restrict workers’ ability to build their own customer base or work for anyone else.

Uber said it was committed to improving working conditions but worried about the EU proposal “putting thousands of jobs at risk, crippling small businesses before the pandemic and hurting vital services”. on which consumers across Europe rely.”

“Any EU-wide rule would allow drivers and road users to maintain the flexibility we know they appreciate most, while allowing platforms to offer a wide range of protections and more benefits”, said the announcement from the ride-hailing service.

Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeaway said it “welcomes and fully supports” the proposals and hopes they will provide companies across Europe with “clarity and a level playing field”. Unlike other food delivery platforms, the company’s drivers are employed as employees, which it says “demonstrates that providing flexibility doesn’t necessarily come at the expense of people.” labor”.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, estimates that around 28 million people on the continent are self-employed on digital platforms, growing to 43 million by 2025, but predicts as many as four. 1 million people could be reclassified as employees under the new regulations. The bloc has played a leading role globally in cracking down on tech companies to ensure everything from worker rights to online safety.

The commission said the platforms could challenge the classification, but the burden would be on them to prove they were not the employer.

“No one is trying to kill, to stop or hinder this growth of the platform economy,” EU Employment and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit said at a press conference in Brussels. But “it’s important to make sure these jobs are quality jobs… We don’t want this new economy to just bring in precarious or low quality jobs.”

The proposed EU rules are another blow to contract economy firms in Europe. New law or recent court ruling in Spain, the Netherlands and England requires food delivery drivers and ride-hailing drivers to be listed as employees instead of classified as freelancers.

There have been more than 100 court decisions across Europe on the matter, with most judges ruling that independent contractors are employees – something the commission took into account when drafting its directive. .

By contrast, Uber and other app-based services in the US have avoided an attempt in California to classify workers as employees, despite the battle. continue in the courts.

The European Commission also wants to force gig work platforms to be more transparent about the algorithms used to manage workers so they can better understand how work is delivered and how wages are set. determined. People should monitor algorithms and workers who can appeal any automated decisions, it said. The European Union’s plan to promote Gig economic employees is the latest blow to applications

Aila Slisco

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