EU Approves Laws to Better Protect Gig-Workers

Beth Furness

In the last ten years, the number of gig jobs has been increasing exponentially and so has the so-called 'gig-economy'. Platforms like Lyft, AirBnb and Upwork have started to change the way we think about work opportunities and new ways of earning pop up every day. Did you know that people can get paid to wait in line for someone else? That's a gig job too!

In the last ten years, the number of gig jobs has been increasing exponentially and so has the so-called 'gig-economy'. Platforms like Lyft, AirBnb and Upwork have started to change the way we think about work opportunities and new ways of earning pop up every day. Did you know that people can get paid to wait in line for someone else? That's a gig job too!

Future of work

In the last ten years, the number of gig jobs has been increasing exponentially and so has the so-called 'gig-economy'. Platforms like Lyft, AirBnb and Upwork have started to change the way we think about work opportunities and new ways of earning pop up every day. Did you know that people can get paid to wait in line for someone else? That's a gig job too!


These app-based and digital work opportunities have been the talk of the town in the last couple of years though, because of the difficulty to define their employment status and the consequent workers' rights to be applied or not.


They offer more freedom and flexibility to individuals. However, people providing services through these companies are usually treated as independent contractors, not employees. This led to social movements organised by the workers, demanding appropriate (and better) working conditions and better gig workers’ rights. An important shift into the work ecosystem is welcomed as long as we find a common ground to protect the stakeholders concerned.

The gig economy and the EU

The gig economy is growing aggressively in the European Union. Legislators in the EU are having a hard time reacting to the drastic changes happening and especially on how to define this kind of jobs. Therefore, from a legal perspective it has remained a grey area, at least in the EU legislation. However, it looks like the EU is catching up with the latest developments and acknowledging the need to take measures regarding temporary and on-demand jobs. The aim is to protect the most vulnerable employees on atypical work agreements, or in non-standard jobs - including gig workers.

The EU’s new legislation

Last month, lawmakers established new rules that will allow better protection for workers in the European Union. The new legislation includes many, but some self-employed contractors may have been left out. From April 2019, the member states will have up to three years to put the policies into practice. If the United Kingdom will still belong to the EU in three years, it has to apply the laws as well. However, the UK has already implemented similar legislation at national level, the BBC reports.


Who will benefit from better rights with the new EU legislation?

On-demand and platform workers, intermittent workers, voucher-based workers, workers in casual or short-term employment, as well as paid trainees and apprentices will be provided a set of minimum rights. They are required to meet certain criteria: work a minimum of 3 hours per week, and thus at least 12 hours on average in a month. The new rules will not apply to self-employed people running their own business.


The New Directive:

• introduces minimum rights recognised for workers in intermittent or short-term employment

• requests companies to inform their workers about the working conditions on the first day on the job, or no later than seven days when justified

• demands to provide description of the duties and payment information

• allows employees to have other jobs

• indicates of what a standard working day is, or reference hours

• gives the contractors right to compensation for when a gig/task is cancelled too late

What's happening in the US?

On the other side of the pond, US based companies like Doordash, Instacart and Postmates have been implementing minimum pay per task or minimum hourly pay since facing growing pressure from their workers. Since gig-economy companies rely on algorithms (surge rates, pay per kilometre for example) to pay their independent contractors, it can be tricky to enforce fixed wages.


This resolution is part of the EU work towards better social policies within the member states, and goes hand in hand with other rules regarding health and safety at work, working time and social security.

It's a first step into supporting workers that might be at risk, but more needs to be done if we want to establish a fair gig-economy environment.


Gig-economy performs best with flexibility, and the enforcement of laws should try to embrace new realities of employment, keeping an eye on the protection of exposed workers.

Let us know what you think about these new regulations, how will this impact companies doing business with gig workers?


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