The EU Wants to Fix Gig Work. Uber Has Its Own Ideas

“Our advertising campaign simply puts certified facts about the company in the public domain,” says Uber spokesperson Nixon. “Uber supports a strong and enforceable directive that ensures platform workers maintain the independence they want and receive the protections they deserve, such as minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.”

What’s at stake for Uber with the brand new guidelines is the employment classification of its Uber drivers and UberEats couriers. “Classification is the entry point into the whole range of protections, everything from protection against unfair dismissal, through to sick leave, through to parental or maternity leave, through to discrimination protection,” says Jeremias Adams-Prassl, a regulation professor on the University of Oxford. “That’s why you can also see the attraction of misclassifying workers. If you misclassify individuals, you can try to avoid all of those obligations.”

Officials are divided about how platform staff ought to be labeled. Many MEPs favor guidelines that will presume all platform staff are workers—except the platforms can show in any other case. But some representatives of EU member states, sitting within the European Council, favor a system the place staff first need to show they meet a lot of standards earlier than they’ll problem their employment standing. That’s as a result of member states fear that if the foundations are too strict, platforms would reply by shrinking their platform workforce, says Ludovic Voet, confederal secretary on the European Trade Union Confederation. “Some of these countries don’t want to confront a business model that might push people out of employment statistics.” Four months after Spain launched its rider’s regulation, which mandated that supply couriers ought to be thought of workers, Deliveroo closed its operations within the nation completely.

Platform staff fear that member states would wrestle to implement no matter new guidelines the EU passes. Standing within the rain in Brussels, Peeters explains he has labored for UberEats within the metropolis for the previous six years. In January, new guidelines took impact in Belgium that had been meant to make it simpler for platform staff to be labeled as workers. “You know what’s changed? Nothing,” says Peeters. “The price I pay for rent is going up. The price I pay for food is going up. But my [employment] status has stayed the same.” Nixon says Uber complies with all relevant legal guidelines wherever it operates. “In Belgium we provide all independent drivers and couriers with free injury, sickness and paternity cover.”

In Spain, the “riders law” has been criticized in some quarters for being ineffective. “The biggest company there, Glovo, is not fulfilling this law for years and years with total impunity,” claims Corredor, who labored as a Deliveroo courier in Spain between 2016 and 2017 and is now an activist for the platform staff group Riders x Derechos. The level of Spain’s riders regulation was additionally to pressure platforms to categorise extra of their staff as workers. Instead of doing that, Glovo tweaked lots of their couriers’ work phrases so they might nonetheless be labeled as unbiased, in response to Corredor. “We are confident that our operating model in Spain, launched in August 2021, meets all regulatory requirements,” says Felix Eggert, spokesperson for Glovo.

For Corredor, that is all a part of an even bigger battle, the place platform staff are battling to struggle for the fundamental rights—minimal wage and most working hours—that exist in the remainder of the financial system. “This is [the platforms’] strategy, using the discourse of innovation and technology to take out these rights,” he claims. “I think this is very problematic.”