New Legislation To Protect Gig Workers In The EU

Good news for gig workers throughout the EU as the Platform Work Directive has finally been adopted by the European Parliament with 554 votes in favour, 56 against, and 24 abstentions.  It has been a long arduous process for the EU to reach agreement, and several times it looked like it wouldn’t happen at all.

The directive aims to protect gig and platform workers from being exploited, with key elements including:

Employment status

The new law introduces a presumption of an employment relationship, whereas currently workers are usually self-employed and must go to tribunal if they wish to challenge this.  An employment relationship will be triggered when the platform controls and directs the worker, which is almost always the case in the gig economy.  The legislation will stamp out false self-employment and means that gig workers should receive the same statutory rights as any other employee.

The directive requires EU member states to establish a system to rebut the legal presumption of employment, and the burden of proof lies with the platform – meaning that the gig platform will have to prove that there is no employment relationship if they are genuinely engaging workers on a self-employed basis.

Management by algorithms

The new rules ensure that a person performing platform work cannot be fired or dismissed based on a decision taken by an algorithm or an automated decision-making system.  Instead, digital platforms must ensure that there is human oversight on important decisions that directly affect workers.

Transparency and data protection

Platforms will be forbidden from processing certain types of personal data, such as data on someone’s emotional or psychological state and personal beliefs.

What happens next?

After its publication in the Official Journal of the EU, member states will have two years to incorporate the directive into their national legislation.  Whilst it won’t be a quick change, the directive will mean significantly better protection for gig and platform workers imminently.  Of course, Brexit means that the directive will not apply to the UK, so it will be interesting to see if the government decides to keep pace with Europe by establishing any similar measures here.

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