EU countries amend draft proposal on gig workers’ rights, companies unhappy


EU member states have made revisions to proposed regulations that seek to grant employee benefits to workers in online companies such as Uber and Deliveroo. The amendments were announced ahead of negotiations with EU lawmakers, who desire more comprehensive rules compared to those proposed by both the EU governments and the European Commission. The draft rules, initially presented by the EU executive in late 2021, are pioneering on a global scale and form part of a series of legislations aiming to establish fair competition between online platforms and traditional businesses.

The latest draft version, agreed upon by EU countries on Monday, introduces a set of seven criteria, with companies being recognized as employers if they meet at least three of them. These criteria include supervising workers’ performance through electronic means, restricting their autonomy in selecting working hours, limiting their tasks and prohibiting work for third parties, imposing an upper limit on wages, establishing rules on appearance and conduct, and constraining the use of subcontractors or substitutes.

According to the European Commission, approximately 4.1 million out of the 28 million workers in online platform companies throughout the 27 EU member states would be covered by these rules. However, the European Parliament, which proposed its own amendments in February, insists on incorporating an indicative list of criteria to determine the employment status of workers. Such criteria would encompass factors like receiving a fixed salary, having defined working hours and work duration, and being subject to supervision by the employer.

EU member states emphasize that workers should be adequately informed about the utilization of algorithms in decision-making processes that affect them, while lawmakers argue that crucial decisions should not be solely entrusted to automated systems.

The proposals put forth by EU countries and lawmakers faced criticism from Uber, which voiced its concerns regarding the potential consequences for the independence and flexibility desired by the majority of platform workers. Uber’s Vice President, Anabel Diaz Calderon, stated, “As many countries across Europe have demonstrated, there are better ways to uphold European social values without removing the independence and flexibility that the majority of platform workers say they want.”

Delivery Platforms Europe, an association representing Bolt, Deliveroo, Delivery Hero, Glovo, Uber, and Wolt, also expressed dissatisfaction with the revised text. While acknowledging that the approved version provides more clarity than the original proposal, the association contends that it still fails to establish a clear distinction between employment and self-employment and does little to improve the situation of genuinely self-employed individuals.

The details of the draft will now undergo thorough discussion and negotiation between EU countries, EU lawmakers, and the European Commission before being enacted as legislation.

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