The European Council has unveiled its plans to grant gig workers in Europe the same rights as traditional employees and to establish guidelines regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in work environments.
Under the council’s proposal, platform workers such as taxi drivers, domestic workers, and food delivery drivers would be reclassified as employees, ensuring that they receive labor rights and social protection under EU law.
The council argues that platform workers are currently misclassified as self-employed, as they face similar rules and restrictions as regular employees.
To determine whether a job should be classified as employment rather than self-employment, workers must meet three out of seven criteria outlined by the council. These criteria include limitations on earnings and restrictions on the ability to decline work assignments.
Additionally, the council has introduced measures to ensure that workers are informed about the use of algorithms and automation in decision-making processes. It also emphasizes the importance of qualified staff overseeing the implementation of such technologies.
Both proposals are subject to negotiations with the European Parliament.
While the UK is not bound by EU law following its departure from the European Union, legal experts suggest that UK employers with gig workers should take note of the EU’s decision.
Mel Stancliffe, a partner in the employment team at Cripps, stated that the UK will not be affected directly by the new position on employment classification. However, he noted that the EU’s approach aligns with the direction of UK courts, which have sought to protect workers in the digital platform economy, as evident in cases involving companies like Uber.
The issue of clarifying employment status for platform and gig workers is also a focal point in the UK’s Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices and a key principle of the concept of Good Work.
According to Dan Lucy, the director of HR research and consulting at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), greater clarity on employment status benefits both workers and employers. It allows for a clearer understanding of the nature of the working relationship and respective rights and responsibilities. Ambiguity in this regard can lead to exploitation, one-sided flexibility, and hinder the ability to maximize the potential advantages of a flexible labor market for both workers and employers.
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