After months of negotiations, the European Parliament has finally agreed it’s position on platform workers rights with a new EU Directive set to give this important workforce much-needed protections.
In essence, the legislation will mean that these self-employed platform workers will need to be engaged as employees and receive all the statutory rights of employment. In addition, there are various transparency measures on how automated tools are used, so increasing workers’ rights and protection in the face of algorithmic management.
So far, the EU has remained divided on how to tackle the gig economy employment classification issue — with some member states in favour of strengthening protections for gig workers and others keen to shield platforms from the expense of employing large numbers of gig workers. The platforms themselves have undertaken extensive lobbying in order to influence the process, no doubt concerned about the potentially seismic impact on their businesses.
It now looks like EU platform workers will be presumed employees unless they are very clearly genuinely self-employed and engaged on appropriate business-to-business terms. This is unlikely to be possible for gig platforms to adopt in practice, particularly not at the scale needed, so workers will likely become employees.
There is still some way for the legislation to be adopted within Europe, and member states will then have 2 years to integrate the directive into their national law. Although the UK is no longer part of the EU, the government will almost inevitably come under pressure to adopt similar legislation here. We will keep you updated on all developments.
Although still at early stages, this legislation is a big win for those gig workers who are at risk of being exploited, and who want (or arguably need) the protections of employment.