Gig economy workers to get employee rights under EU proposals – The Guardian


Gig economy companies operating in the European Union, such as Uber and Deliveroo, must ensure workers get the minimum wage, access to sick pay, holidays and other employment rights under plans for new laws to crack down on fake self-employment.

Publishing long-awaited draft legislation on Thursday, the European Commission said the burden of proof on employment status would shift to companies, rather than the individuals that work for them. Until now, gig economy workers have had to go to court to prove they are employees, or risk being denied basic rights.

Nicolas Schmit, EU commissioner for jobs and social rights, told the Guardian and other European newspapers that internet platforms “have used grey zones in our legislation [and] all possible ambiguities” to develop their business models, resulting in a “misclassification” of millions of workers.

Companies that did not allow people to work for other firms, or had rules about appearance and how to carry out tasks, could be classed as employers, under the proposals, under criteria used to determine employment status. The new rules would not apply to genuinely indepdent contractors.

In the EU’s 27 member states, about 5.5 million workers are misclassified as self-employed, when they should be treated as employees with benefits and protection, such as accident insurance, according the commission. Firms would only have to pay minimum wages, where they already exist. About 28 million people work for platforms in the EU, but this is expected to reach 43 million by 2025.

The proposals are an attempt to provide legal certainty, after European courts have been asked to settle about 100 disputes relating to gig economy companies. France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal tightened up domestic 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 employment law for a new generation of internet companies. In 2016 an employment court found that Uber drivers are not self-employed and should be paid the minimum wage, a verdict upheld by the supreme court in February.

Tim Sharp, senior employment rights policy officer at the Trades Union Congress, said there had not been any “significant government intervention in the UK” to address what unions see as abusive and problematic aspects of platform working.

“If the European Union is seen to be taking a robust approach on platform operators, I think there will be more pressure on the government here to take measures to protect vulnerable workers,” he said.

The EU proposals will be amended by national ministers and MEPs before they become law.

Schmit, a former labour minister in his native Luxembourg, said some services might cost “a bit more”, …….


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