European Commission decides to go after ‘precarious' side-hustle gig economy jobs

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The European Commission has today outlined a set of measures that it says will improve the working conditions of people working with digital labour platforms in the European Union. With the proposed Directive, the EC wants to put an end to ‘fake self-employment’ and ensure that those who are newly defined as workers get access to the minimum wage, collective bargaining, working time and health protection, the right to paid leave or improved access to protection against work accidents, unemployment and sickness benefits, as well as contributory old-age pensions.

The EC said that the Directive provides criteria for helping to determine whether a person is employed or self-employed and that the onus will shift on to the platforms if they want to dispute the classification. They will have to provide proof that there is no employment relationship resting on them.

Another change that this Directive will introduce will be to increase the transparency of any algorithms that are used by digital labour platforms. This right will be granted to both employed and self-employed persons and it will help to ‘ensure human monitoring on their respect of working conditions and gives the right to content automated decisions.’

Commenting on the proposed Directive, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said:

“With more and more jobs created by digital labour platforms, we need to ensure decent working conditions for all those deriving their income from such work. Our proposal for a Directive will help false self-employed working for platforms to correctly determine their employment status and enjoy all the social rights that come with that. Genuine self-employed on platforms will be protected through enhanced legal certainty on their status and there will be new safeguards against the pitfalls of algorithmic management. This is an important step towards a more social digital economy.”

While some of the changes being made here are definitely a step forward, such as algorithm transparency, some of those who are currently in ‘fake self-employment’ could swiftly find themselves out of work entirely if businesses fail to be profitable under the new regime. Only time will tell what happens next.

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