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EU plans to boost gig economy workers' rights

December 9, 2021

Around 28 million people across the bloc work for firms, such as Uber and Deliveroo, in a freelance capacity. The European Commission wants to give the workers "the same level of protection as everyone" else.

Uber Eats workers in Warsaw, Poland
The changes could see millions workers for firms such as Uber Eats gain extra levels of employment protectionImage: Aleksander Kalka/ZUMA Wire/picture alliance

The European Commission on Thursday presented new proposals that could see millions of workers for companies such as Uber and Deliveroo reclassified as employees rather than as freelancers.

"Platform workers deserve the same level of protection as everyone in the European Union under our social model," European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovksis said at a news conference in Brussels.

Around 28 million people currently work for digital labor platforms across the bloc. And with a further 15 million people expected to be working in the same manner by 2025, the EU wanted to act. The proposals could reclassify many of the gig economy workers as employees, meaning they are entitled to benefits such as holiday pay, parental leave and increased job security.

The legislation would require the support of the EU's 27 member states and the European Parliament before being implemented.

Questions remain over algorithms

The proposals also seek greater safeguards and transparency on the use of algorithms that make management decisions on such platforms, including a right to contest them and get better access to how they work.

With more than 500 labor platforms now active in the single market, according to the European Commission, concern has grown in recent years about the precarious status of many workers.

Uber has been heavily criticized during the pandemic as many drivers lost work. Widespread demonstrations have taken place against the ride-hailing app as workers sought improved rights.

Shift - Living in the Digital Age

jsi/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)

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