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Uber workers would be classified as employees under EU proposal


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PLC and other gig-saving companies could be forced to give more benefits to their drivers and delivery staff under a European Union proposal that would reclassify many of their jobs as ‘jobs.

The bill, proposed by the EU executive on Thursday, would establish a presumption that many companies in what is often referred to as the odd-job economy actually employ workers, depending on the level of control exercised companies about how workers do their jobs. Until now, most of these companies considered the majority of their workers to be independent contractors.

The change would apply to these companies if they meet certain criteria, such as the definition of remuneration for tasks and the evaluation of workers’ performance, although companies can rebut the presumption of employment in national courts through the Europe.

EU officials estimate that around 5 million of the 28 million people who do what is also known as platform work in the bloc would be reclassified under the new rules. Many are workers who provide in-person services, such as drivers and delivery people, EU officials have said.

“With more and more jobs created by digital work platforms, we must ensure decent working conditions for all those who earn their income from this work”, said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission , who leads technology policy and antitrust enforcement.

The proposal to work together will now enter years of debate before possible implementation. To become law, it must be approved by the EU parliament and member states, after which each of the 27 EU states would have two years to adapt and implement it nationally.

But even before it’s passed, Thursday’s proposal could impact the global debate on whether and how to grant more employment rights to workers in the gig economy, where apps distribute individual tasks. to a group of people that app makers have historically treated as independent. .

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Companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, as well as Estonian ride-sharing and food delivery platform Bolt Technology OU, are opposed to the proposal as it stands now, saying the redeployment of workers could lead to loss of jobs. jobs in their industries as companies adjust to the new rules.

Bolt says the change would likely require him to hire full-time drivers in a “maximum utilization model,” meaning he would employ fewer drivers for longer hours. “The effect this has is that you are going to make people lose their job opportunities,” said Aurélien Pozzana, Bolt’s public policy manager for Western Europe.

Deliveroo, which left the Spanish market earlier this year in part because of rules that would effectively reclassify its passengers, said that “the reclassification of passengers has negative consequences for the passengers themselves, consumers, restaurants and l ‘economy in the broad sense’.

Uber, for its part, says it wants to create standards to deliver benefits while keeping its drivers independent, which it says they value. A company spokesperson said Uber “feared the Commission’s proposal would have the opposite effect, putting thousands of jobs at risk.”

The company announced in March that it would grant its UK drivers employee status which entitles them to certain benefits after losing a case over their status in the country’s Supreme Court.

According to Thursday’s proposal, companies would be considered employers if they meet two of the five criteria, including restricting a worker’s ability to work for others, limiting how they can refuse to perform jobs. tasks or the fixing of levels of remuneration or maximum costs. Companies could challenge the designation as an employer depending on the specifics of their situation.

The bill would also grant everyone who works for what the EU calls “platform companies” – whether classified as self-employed or employed – new rights to information and human oversight. automated management of their employment. It comes as more and more companies are using automated systems to help supervise employees.

Thursday’s proposal is the latest salvo in the EU’s attempt to expand regulation of large tech companies, following other proposals to regulate the moderation of social media content, to ban certain business practices allegedly anti-competitive activity of large tech companies and restrict the use of artificial intelligence. .

Similar rules on some of these topics are advancing in the UK, and other proposals to curb big tech companies are under consideration in the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com

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