New EU gig economy laws saved from oblivion by Belgian compromise | Gig economy

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New laws designed to improve the rights of gig economy workers in the EU contracted to companies such as Uber have been saved from oblivion after they won the majority backing of member states.

The legislation had been blocked by a group of countries last month, when France said it could not support the text on the table and Germany abstained.

But on Monday, a compromise text pushed by Belgium got the law over the line, giving it one final chance of being passed before legislative procedures are timed out due to the looming EU parliamentary elections.

The Belgian presidency announced the breakthrough during a summit of employment, social affairs and health ministers in Brussels.

“Better working conditions for those delivering your meal at home. Ministers just approved the compromise text on the platform work directive,” it said in a tweet.

✅ Better working conditions for those delivering your meal at home!

🇪🇺 Ministers just approved the compromise text on the Platform Work Directive (#PWD).

This will improve the rights & conditions of more than 28.5 million Europeans working in the #PlatformWork economy.#EPSCO pic.twitter.com/94nHO40UcK

— Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2024 (@EU2024BE) March 11, 2024

Two years in the making, the directive is designed to give taxi and delivery drivers, such as those working for Uber and Deliveroo, rights similar to those full employees enjoy, including holidays, sick pay and the minimum wage.

Brussels has previously estimated that this could affect about 5.5 million of the 28 million workers using gig economy platforms.

The latest compromise would allow member states to decide when a platform worker qualifies for consideration similar to an employee.

Mark MacGann, the whistleblower who leaked more than 124,000 Uber documents to the Guardian, in part because he believed it misrepresented the economic benefits to drivers of the company’s gig economy model, said: “Millions of platform workers across the EU have waited almost a decade to get governments to recognise their basic human rights. This legislation is an overdue but welcome step in the right direction.”

Sources say Germany abstained from Monday’s vote and France indicated that it could move to a more positive position after studying the text.

The detailed working that will give life to the compromise solution will now be hashed out by the representatives of the member states in Brussels before returning to the European parliament for final approval.

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The deal will also address the use of algorithms by human resources personnel and help them correctly determine the employment status of those working for platforms

Pierre-Yves Dermagne, the Belgian deputy prime minister and minister for the economy and employment, said: “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.

“The agreement confirmed today builds on the efforts of previous council presidencies and reaffirms the social dimension of the European Union.”

The European Council, which represents member states, said the new laws would “strike a balance between respecting national labour systems and ensuring minimum standards of protection for the more than 28 million persons working in digital labour platforms across the EU”.