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Bitter Blow For Gig Workers As EU Legislation Blocked

The much-debated and long-anticipated EU Platform Work Directive has been blocked due to member states either abstaining or refusing to support the latest version.  The vote last week was already a last ditch attempt following years of negotiations.

What is the issue? 

The proposals have been controversial from the outset, particularly in relation to the presumption of employment status, i.e. that platform/gig workers would be automatically considered employees rather than self-employed.  It is estimated that 5.5 million platform workers in the EU are misclassified, who would become presumed employees under the Platform Work Directive and therefore entitled to rights such as minimum wage, holiday, sick pay etc.

The transition of self-employed workers becoming entitled to certain statutory rights will have a very significant cost impact on the platforms.  In addition some European governments were concerned about the negative impact on the gig economy itself within their country, and did not want to slow this growth.

Disagreement and protracted negotiations 

In contrast to member concerns the European Parliament took a pro-worker view that would make it difficult for the legal presumption to be avoided.  The Platform Work Directive was first proposed in June 2021, and it took until December last year for negotiators to reach a deal.  Following a rebellion, this had to be revised once again, and a final agreement was put to ambassadors on Friday last week.  There was insufficient support and the deal is in limbo.

What next?

Judging by the protracted negotiations to reach this point, it is clear that the divisions will not be easily resolved.  The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2024 said: “We believe that this directive, aiming to be an important step forward for this workforce, has come a long way.  We’ll now consider next steps.”

Here at IWORK, we can’t help thinking that there is not enough time for the Platform Work Directive to be negotiated and agreed before the next EU election in June.  Hopefully we’re wrong!

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