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European Commission Pushes for Compromise on Gig Worker Rights

 |  February 15, 2024

In a bid to address the precarious situation of gig workers across the European Union, the European Commission is making efforts to secure support for a compromised agreement on worker rights within online platform companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.

A document obtained by Reuters reveals the Commission’s push for a watered-down political accord, indicating a move away from the more stringent regulations proposed earlier.

The draft rules, initially proposed by the EU in 2021, are set to undergo a crucial vote during a meeting of ambassadors from the 27 EU countries on Friday.

According to Reuters, the agreement, brokered by Belgium, the current holder of the EU presidency, with EU lawmakers last week, faces resistance primarily from France, which still harbors reservations about the deal. Additionally, Germany is anticipated to abstain from the voting process, while uncertainty looms over the positions of Spain and Italy, potentially jeopardizing the agreement, as sources with direct knowledge of the matter have indicated.

Should the legislation fail to pass, approximately 40 million gig workers in Europe, alongside online platform companies, would be left vulnerable to a disjointed patchwork of rules and legal ambiguity. The provisional agreement, significantly diluted from the Commission’s original proposal, notably eliminates a set of criteria designed to ascertain whether online companies should be considered employers.

Read more: France Fines Deliveroo Over Gig Worker Status

Under the revised agreement, individual member states will be tasked with defining the employment criteria for online workers. These criteria can subsequently be contested by either the online companies or regulatory authorities, subject to national court rulings. This approach effectively maintains the current status quo across Europe, granting member states significant leeway in interpreting and implementing the notion of an effective legal presumption of employment.

During a recent meeting of EU ambassadors, the Commission sought to provide guidance to member states regarding the interpretation of the presumption of employment, emphasizing the flexibility for countries to determine the mechanism. The Commission’s document, seen by Reuters, underscores the intent to afford member states a margin of maneuver in defining this crucial aspect of the agreement.

Despite the Commission’s efforts to foster consensus, the road to a unified stance on gig worker rights remains fraught with challenges. The forthcoming vote will serve as a litmus test for the EU’s ability to navigate the complex interplay between regulatory frameworks and the evolving nature of the digital economy.

Source: Reuters