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EU moves to give gig workers rights and protect them from AI



The European Council has announced its intentions to give gig workers in Europe the same rights as employees, and establish rules on AI’s use in the workplace.

On 12 June the council proposed the reclassification of so-called platform workers, including taxi drivers, domestic workers and food delivery drivers, to employees, giving them labour rights and social protection under EU law.

According to the body, platform workers are currently misclassified as self-employed because the rules and restrictions they are subjected are the same as those for people who work as employees.

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For a job to be deemed employment rather than self-employment, workers need to meet three of seven criteria set out by the council, which includes an upper limit on the amount of money workers can earn and restrictions in their ability to turn down work.

The council also proposed new measures to ensure workers are informed of the use of algorithms and automation in decision-making processes, and that such technologies are overseen by qualified staff.

Both proposals are subject to negotiations with the European Parliament.

As the UK no longer ascribes to EU-law, the council’s proposals will not directly affect UK employment law.

However, Mel Stancliffe, partner in the employment team at Cripps, said it would be pertinent for UK employers with gig workers to be mindful of the EU’s decision.

Speaking to HR magazine, Stancliffe said: “It will be a relief to many organisations that their UK platform workers will not be presumed to be employees.”

“The UK won’t be bound by the new position for its people working here but it is completely consistent with the direction of travel of the UK courts to look to protect workers working on a digital platform as the Uber and other cases demonstrate.”

Dan Lucy, director of HR research and consulting at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), said greater clarity on employment status when it comes to platform or gig work is also at the heart of proposals for the UK’s Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices and a core principle of Good Work.

Speaking to HR magazine, Lucy said: “Greater clarity is of potential benefit to both workers and employers, enabling both to know more clearly the nature of their relationship, and their respective rights and responsibilities.

“In the absence of clarity, risks of exploitation and one-sided flexibility exist, as well as potentially hindering the ability to make the most of the opportunities a flexible labour market potentially offers for both workers and employers.”

Further details of the European Council’s proposal on the rights of platform workers can be found here.

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