The EU wants gig workers including ride-hailing drivers and food-delivery couriers to be reclassified as employees if their work fits certain criteria, according to undated draft EU rules obtained by POLITICO.
The Commission is set to unveil the new draft rules on Thursday morning, most likely in the form of a directive that would set minimum rights for platform workers but allow EU countries to go further if they wish.
The initiative, which would apply to platforms workers like Uber drivers and Deliveroo couriers, lays out a series of conditions to establish whether the relationship between a platform and a worker amounts to an employer-employee relationship.
Platforms would be considered employers if they determine a worker’s level of remuneration; require them to respect rules with regard to appearance; supervise the performance via electronic means; restrict the freedom to choose working hours; and restrict the possibility for the platform worker to perform work for others.
If any two of these criteria are fulfilled, according to the draft, an employer-employee would be established.
Such a change could affect millions of workers who are currently loosely affiliated with one or more gig work platforms. It would also Europe apart from the United States, where similar attempts to garner increased rights for gig workers have been rebuffed.
‘A price to pay’
Under the Commission’s proposal, if a platform disagrees that a platform worker is an employee, “the burden of the proof shall be on the digital labour platform” to prove so, the draft suggests.
If the proposal is adopted by EU countries, as many as 4.1 million platform workers could be reclassified, according to an impact assessment included in the draft. Some of those workers who currently earn less than the minimum wage would see their pay increase.
Platforms have ramped up lobbying in the weeks leading up to the draft’s unveiling, pushing back against the prospect of reclassification for their workers. New lobby groups have been formed and studies have been commissioned which conclude that such reclassification will lead to massive job losses.
However, some platforms have shown willingness to work under the new model, while warning that customers could pay a price.
“Our efficiency is high enough that we can do this with employees. However, we will introduce a lot of admin costs, because we will need to do more rigorous performance management, and we will have difficulty getting couriers,” Miki Kuusi, CEO of Finnish food-delivery platform Wolt, which was recently acquired by U.S. company DoorDash for €7 billion, told POLITICO in an interview.
The Commission has been listening.
Both Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager — who will present the initiative on Wednesday — and Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit — who leads the work on a technical level — have met with the CEOs of both Uber and Deliveroo in recent weeks.
Schmit has also seen a delegation from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which asked for a “political move” to follow up on the many court cases.
The draft EU rules, which were not dated, list fewer criteria than another draft, seen by POLITICO and dated October 13.
The Commission’s initiative is just a first step as both Parliament and Council will have to sign off on the legislation, and EU countries would have two years after to adopt the legislation nationally.
Some EU countries, like Spain, have already introduced their own rules reclassifying gig workers as employees or had court rulings that had the same effect. For EU lawmakers in Parliament, the current Commission draft is a win, as they pushed for this model in their own report, approved in September.
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