MEPs boost ‘gig economy’ rights

MEPs boost ‘gig economy’ rights

The outgoing European Parliament has approved rules to protect “gig economy” workers with minimum rights and demands for increased transparency for those working for firms like Uber or Deliveroo.

The legislation proposes more reliable hours and compensation for cancelled work and an end to “abusive practices” for casual staff. 

MEPs are hastily passing several popular pieces of legislation as they face an uncertain election in late May which might change the balance of power in the chamber. 

The term “gig” is a slang word typically used when referring to musicians.

Gig economy workers have been treated as independent contractors instead of employees in some EU countries and have not been granted employment rights.

Member states have three years to enforce the rules. MEPs say the rules apply to “the most vulnerable employees on atypical contracts and in non-standard jobs”, including those on zero-hour contracts.

Staff in the EU have extensive protections to their working hours, minimum breaks and holiday entitlement. But the “gig economy”, where people do multiple jobs on a flexible basis or for erratic periods, offers few safeguards.

The EU law will require firms to inform all workers about “essential aspects” of the contract on the first day, including details of payment, indications of what a standard working day is and rights to compensation for the late cancelling of work. 

The rules apply to all those who work more than three hours a week on average over four weeks. The rules also apply to trainees and apprentices, who are also deemed especially vulnerable to exploitation.

The EU said the new rules would not apply to “genuinely self-employed” people who work for themselves.

Enrique Calvet Chambon, the MEP from the ALDE liberal group who has pushed through the rules, said it was the first new EU legislation on minimum workers’ rights for 20 years.

“From now on no employer will be able to abuse the flexibility in the labour market.

“All workers who have been in limbo will now be granted minimum rights thanks to this directive,” the Spaniard added. 

Drivers and couriers who get their work from apps face a “heightened risk” of crashes, according to a study by the University College London (UCL). It said 42 per cent of gig-economy couriers and taxi drivers reported vehicle damage because of a collision.

Close to half of respondents said time constraints pushed them to break the speed limit.

The distraction of smartphones and tiredness from overwork were listed as perils for those delivering food and parcels.

The study compiled 200 online responses from drivers and couriers and 48 detailed interviews.

The study mentioned Uber and Deliveroo as examples of firms where workers are not paid a salary but instead earn money for each completed job.


The gig economy is growing. Picture credit: PXHere 




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