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EU prepares new rules on gig workers’ rights

written by Bella Palmer

Publishing the draft legislation on Thursday, the EC said the burden of proof on employment status would shift to companies, rather than the individuals that work for them

Gig economy companies operating in the European Union (EU), 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 clamp down on fake self-employment.

Publishing the draft legislation on Thursday, the European Commission (EC) 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.

The proposal comes as countries and courts around Europe try to address shortcomings in the gig economy, with judges in most cases backing the rights of workers.

Nicolas Schmit, EU commissioner for jobs and social rights, told 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.

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.

France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal tightened up domestic laws, but EU officials believe no government has fully addressed the problem.

Sanctions for non-compliance, which can include fines, will be set by EU countries while national authorities which fail to put in place the necessary measures can face legal action by the Commission.

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

The European Trade Union Confederation’s Ludovic Voet said the directive should ‘signal the end of the free for all’ for companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and others. For too long platform companies have made huge profits by dodging their most basic obligations as employers at the expense of workers while peddling the lie that they provided choice to workers, he said.


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