EU Commission tries to rally support for political deal on gig workers’ rights

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 1:02 PM

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is trying to rally support from EU countries to endorse a watered-down political agreement on the rights of workers at Uber, Deliveroo and other online companies, according to a document seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The move by the EU, which proposed the draft rules in 2021, came ahead of a meeting of ambassadors from the 27 EU countries on Friday to vote on the provisional deal clinched by Belgium, current holder of the EU presidency, with EU lawmakers last week.

The biggest stumbling block could be France, which still has questions about the deal, while Germany will likely abstain from the voting and uncertainty about Spain and Italy’s position could torpedo the agreement, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Failure to pass the legislation would leave an estimated 40 million gig workers in Europe and also the online platform companies to the mercy of a patchwork of rules and legal uncertainty.

After pushback from the companies and some countries, the provisional agreement, however, is much weaker than the Commission’s proposal as it scraps a set of criteria to determine whether an online company is an employer.

Instead, governments will specify the employment criteria for online workers that can be challenged by online companies or authorities following national court rulings on the subject. This in effect maintains the status quo across Europe.

The onus will be on companies to show that gig workers are not employees.

At a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, the Commission sought to help governments interpret the notion of an effective legal presumption of employment agreed last week, saying it was up to countries to choose the method.

This and other elements would “give (a) margin of manoeuvre for member states to define the mechanism of the presumption,” it said in a document seen by Reuters.

The document also said the Commission intends to set up a transposition group to help EU countries implement the new rule.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Aurora Ellis)