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EU states agree to regulate Deliveroo, Uber workers' rights

March 11, 2024

EU ministers have agreed that the bloc should regulate the circumstances under which "gig economy" workers would be granted employee rights. The rules would apply to platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber.

A deliver for Deliveroo on his bike or motorbike
The Platform Work Directive would classify workers on "gig-economy" apps as employees in some casesImage: Joly Victor//abaca/picture alliance

European Union member states' labor and social ministers on Monday agreed on regulations that determine when workers on platforms like Uber and Deliveroo should be classified as employees. 

What does the legislation mean?

The Platform Work Directive would categorize workers on "gig-economy" apps as employees in certain cases.

This would apply where the platform supervises workers' performances electronically and controls factors like how much they are paid and their working hours. 

"Better working conditions for those delivering your meal at home!" the rotating Belgian EU presidency tweeted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Belgian officials mediated talks to pass the legislation in Brussels on Monday.

A statement from the European Council said the legislation set minimum protection standards for more than 28 million people across the EU working in the gig economy.

"This is the first-ever piece of EU legislation to regulate algorithmic management in the workplace and to set EU minimum standards to improve working conditions for millions of platform workers across the EU," Belgian labor minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne said.

"The agreement confirmed today builds on the efforts of previous Council presidencies and reaffirms the social dimension of the European Union."

Algorithms used for staffing and human resources would be made more open to allow automated systems to be monitored by staff. Workers would also have a right to contest automated decisions.

Who will decide the rules?

An initial proposal that would have seen the European Commission set criteria under which a worker is an employee met with some resistance.

Instead, national law, collective agreements, and case law will decide. However, there would be a burden of proof on the digital platform to show no employment relationship. 

The draft EU law did not win EU member states' support last month. The February 8 text was understood to have been effectively scuppered when France, Germany, Estonia, and Greece did not support it.

This time around, however, Estonia — home to taxi service Bolt — and Greece supported the changes. 

The law needed support from enough member states to represent 65% of the EU population. Monday's decision was a rare example of opposition from both Berlin and Paris being outvoted.

Although the regulation still needs to be passed by the European Parliament, this is considered likely.

Ride-hailing and courier service Uber had lobbied against the original draft rules and said any proposal must balance the differing requirements of drivers and couriers.

The company welcomed the fact that "EU Countries have voted to maintain the status quo today, with platform worker status continuing to be decided country-to-country and court-to-court." 

"Uber now calls on EU countries to introduce national laws that give platform workers the protections they deserve while maintaining the independence they prefer," the Reuters news agency cited an Uber spokeswoman as saying.

This report was written with material from Reuters news agency 

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.