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15th Apr 2024

EU countries unblock deal on new rights for gig workers

  • Estonia and Greece made possible a deal on the platform workers directive, after they changed their position. Only France voted against it, while Germany abstained (Photo: European Union)
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New rules to improve working conditions for EU gig workers have been agreed before Europe pauses for elections, after member states formally adopted the directive in Brussels on Monday (11 March).

"This is a momentous day for gig workers [who number around 28 million in the EU]," said EU commissioner for jobs Nicholas Schmit on X (formerly Twitter).

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"New EU rules will give platform workers more rights and protections without hampering platforms' ability to develop," he added.

The legislation was first proposed in December 2021, and has faced significant opposition since the Parliament and Council decided on their positions last year.

Twice, in December 2023 and February 2024, a provisional agreement was reached between the two co-legislators — but both deals collapsed shortly afterwards.

In the latest failed vote, four member states (France, Germany, Estonia, and Greece) formed a blocking minority when they decided not to support the compromise text over concerns about the legal presumption of employment — which could reclassify 5.5 million workers from 'self-employed' to 'employees'.

On Monday afternoon, however, Greece and Estonia changed their position and decided to support the draft text, allowing the Belgian EU Presidency to reach a final agreement.

Only France voted against, while Germany abstained.

The breakthrough comes as EU institutions prepare to hold European Parliament elections in June, delaying any pending legislation.

"The concerns are still here," Greek labour minister Domna Michailidou said, while adding: "Given the fact that we want to work in the spirit of compromise, we will support the directive".

Under the new rules, member states will be the ones to create a presumption of employment in their legal systems, which could be triggered by a platform worker, a representative or a national authority claiming that they were being misclassified.

Competent authorities will then have to assess whether there are enough facts to indicate control and direction, and if an employment relationship is found, gig platforms will be the ones obliged to prove otherwise.

The directive will also set the first rules for AI in the workplace, bringing more transparency to the management of algorithms and more data protection for workers such as food delivery or taxi drivers.

For the industry group representing Bolt and Uber, Move EU, the current text "fails to achieve a harmonised approach across the EU, creating even more legal uncertainty for ride-hailing drivers," its chairman Aurélien Pozzana said in a statement.

"Uber now calls on EU countries to introduce national laws that give platform workers the protections they deserve, while maintaining the independence they prefer," said an Uber spokesperson.

The compromise text still needs to be formally approved by the parliament, which will vote on it in a plenary session in April.

Once approved, member states will have two years to transpose the legislation into national law.

EU deal on new gig-workers rules unlikely before June elections

Another provisional agreement on improving working conditions for platform workers fall apart on Friday, as four member states decided not to support it — making the chances of a directive before the June European elections unlikely.

Analysis

Decoding the EU deal on new rules for gig workers' conditions

Two years after the EU Commission's proposal, the co-legislators have reached a provisional agreement on a text to improve working conditions for digital platform workers — but what does it include and what is still missing?

Crunch point in talks on EU gig workers' employment status

The 'presumption of employment' crux continues to hold up agreement on a final text to improve conditions for digital platform workers. On Thursday, the EU institutions will meet again on the technical aspects of the agreement.

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