EU Lawmakers Provisionally Agree on Bill That Offers Gig Economy Workers Benefits

European Union lawmakers have been negotiating benefits for gig economy workers for the past few years to address shortfalls in the sector. On 13 December 2023, they provisionally agreed on a Bill which now requires approval by the European Parliament and Council.

We begin by exploring what the new rules in the proposed Bill state. Then, we elaborate a little on what a gig economy is and the current issues a worker in the sector might face. Finally, we discuss how the proposed Bill could help resolve the industry’s shortfalls and how this may influence the UK gig economy.

The EU Bill – Benefits for Gig Economy Workers

In December 2023, a Bill that will provide new employment benefits to EU gig economy workers was provisionally agreed upon. Under the new rules, a gig worker will be presumed to have an employment relationship if they satisfy specific criteria. This will occur if two out of a list of five indicators of control or direction are present. Additionally, the workers will have access to information concerning how their behaviour impacts decisions taken by automated systems.

On the topic of decisions, important ones, like those concerning dismissals and suspensions, will require human oversight. Furthermore, decisions made by automated systems concerning matters like health and safety must be assessed by the parties using them. The new rules will also provide better personal data protection for gig economy workers and prevent digital platforms from escaping these rules through third-party intermediaries.

What is a Gig Economy?

A gig economy generally refers to a marketplace that offers temporary working arrangements to freelancers and contractors. Unlike traditional full-time employment, individuals could be working on varying projects or tasks that may take hours, days or even longer.

With such working arrangements, gig economy workers gain flexibility over when, where and how often they work. However, it’s not all good news. Despite this flexibility, a gig worker could miss out on essential employment benefits if they’re classed as self-employed. Such benefits they might not be entitled to include sick pay, holiday pay and pensions.

Moreover, since gig economy workers may be unentitled to certain employment rights, they may be unable to challenge mistreatment. In such circumstances, the worker may lose money or, even worse, future working opportunities.

How the Bill Could Help Workers

With the shortfalls highlighted in the gig economy, it’s no surprise the EU is looking to introduce new rules to rectify them. Firstly, by presuming a gig worker has an employment relationship, providing they satisfy specific criteria, more individuals will gain key employee benefits. As a result, benefits such as sick pay and pension rights could improve the financial security of these workers in the short and long term.

Another element that will improve their financial security involves information transparency outlining the impact of worker behaviour. As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of the gig economy is providing individuals with flexibility over how they work. However, if worker decisions impact the amount or quality of work they get going forward, they should know this. Therefore, this Bill will allow workers to carefully decide how they interact with digital platforms without compromising future project opportunities.

Furthermore, the new rules will make digital platform providers more accountable for their actions, helping to reduce mistreatment. Not only will humans be responsible for important decisions like dismissals or suspensions, but new personal data protection will be introduced. As such, digital platform providers will have to take greater care of how they treat their workers.

What About UK Gig Economy Workers?

Following the provisional agreement of the EU Bill, there’s no doubt UK gig economy workers will want something similar. This is because the shortfalls in the gig economy stretch globally, and the new EU rules won’t apply to the UK. Therefore, those affected in the UK will likely hope this Bill influences similar directives to be introduced here.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article about the proposed EU Bill that will provide new benefits for gig economy workers. Redmans Solicitors publishes the latest employment law news, so to learn more, read our insights