By Seth Gellman
On Thursday, December 9, the European Commission proposed new rules that would require companies like Uber and Lyft to pay drivers and couriers a minimum wage, a practice that so-called “gig workers.” It is estimated that this would affect up to 4.1 million workers.
Labor unions hailed this plan as a step forward for gig workers, who they argue are exploited with low pay and poor protections. Companies classify these workers as independent contractors to limit liabilities.
There has been an increased push to change laws regarding gig workers after their difficult conditions during the pandemic, where they continued to work during lockdowns with few protections. Gig workers, if these laws were enacted, would be entitled to a minimum wage, holiday pay, unemployment, and health benefits.
The European Union is expected to crackdown further on digital employment and activity. Some leaders hope to create stricter moderation rules on Facebook, make tougher anti-trust regulations, and add regulations to the ever-changing artificial intelligence technology.
In February, Britain’s top court ruled that Uber drivers should be classified as workers. In the Netherlands, a court ruled that Uber drivers should be classified under the same collective rules for taxi drivers.
In addition, the proposal would force companies to reveal how their software systems affected decisions regarding workers.
In response, Uber opposed the measures, saying that it would increase costs for customers. It argued that over 100,000 drivers and roughly 250,000 couriers would lose their jobs. On the other hand, Just Eat, the largest delivery company in Europe, supported the proposal, adding that conditions for workers would improve from it.
The proposal could have a drastic impact on how drivers and couriers are treated in the European Union, and many look to see if they are voted into law.