Gig workers in Europe — including Just Eat Takeaway.com, Uber Eats, Delivery Hero, Deliveroo and others — could be reclassified as employees under a new European Union (EU) initiative, the European Commission (EC) said in a news release on Thursday (Dec. 9).
The proposal could also require that digital platform companies give up some control over workers to make them truly self-employed. If reclassified as employees, workers would be entitled to paid annual leave, collective bargaining and other benefits. The EU estimates the reclassification to employees could cost the industry as much as $5.1 billion.
If the new rules go into effect, they would affect an estimated 4.1 million people and would give the EU among the strictest gig economy mandates in the 27-nation bloc.
“With more and more jobs created by digital labor platforms, we need to ensure decent working conditions for all those deriving their income from such work. Our proposal for a Directive will help false self-employed working for platforms to correctly determine their employment status and enjoy all the social rights that come with that,” said Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Margrethe Vestager.
“Genuine self-employed on platforms will be protected through enhanced legal certainty on their status, and there will be new safeguards against the pitfalls of algorithmic management. This is an important step toward a more social digital economy,” she added.
EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit said at a press conference in Brussels that digital platforms must be held to the same social protection standards as other companies, or it would open a “Pandora’s box ultimately, where people in the economy are trying to get around their social obligations.”
He pointed to the “job-creating potential of digital platforms,” but added that quality is important to ensure that people have “security and can plan for their future.”
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Platform companies like Uber are anticipated to lobby against the rules, which are pending numerous legislative steps before becoming law. The new rules would affect drivers, couriers, house cleaners, home health aides and others who use apps to find work.