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EU’s Gig Worker Legislation Moves Closer to Vote After Compromises

The European Union (EU) is reportedly inching closer to passing legislation on the social and labor rights of millions of gig workers within online platforms.

The journey to this point has not been without its compromises and controversies, Reuters reported Monday (Feb. 11).

Initially proposed by the European Commission in 2021, the draft rules are intended to extend greater protection to an estimated 28 million gig workers across the EU — a figure projected to swell to 43 million in the upcoming year, according to the report.

The essence of these rules aim at charting a clearer demarcation of employment status, thereby ensuring gig workers receive benefits akin to those in traditional employment, the report said.

Negotiations have seen a dilution of the draft rules’ initial ambitions, per the report. A political agreement reached in February between EU lawmakers and Belgium, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, showcased a significant watering down of the Commission’s proposal.

The contentious decision to remove a set of criteria designed by the Commission to ascertain an online company’s role as an employer means that national laws, collective agreements and case law will continue to helm the determination of employment status, rather than the EC’s proposed criteria, according to the report.

This move effectively maintains the current landscape, with the onus on companies to demonstrate that their gig workers are not employees, the report said.

A notable inclusion in the draft rules, however, is the prohibition of automated monitoring or decision-making systems for processing sensitive personal data, such as biometric data, of individuals performing platform work, per the report.

Belgium lauded the endorsement of the Platform Work Directive, viewing it as a step forward in improving the rights and conditions of over 28.5 million Europeans engaged in the platform work economy, according to the report.

Uber said in the report that the status quo remains largely unchanged, with the ball now in the court of individual EU countries to cement national laws that protect platform workers while preserving their independence, per the report.

The European Parliament is set to vote on the agreement in April, the report said.

It was reported in February that four EU member states — Germany, France, Greece and Estonia — had halted progress on the legislation regarding gig workers.