EU institutions have reached a provisional agreement on new rules aimed at protecting a subsection of gig economy workers within the bloc. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)


EU bodies agree stricter rules to protect ‘gig economy’ workers


European Union institutions have reached a provisional agreement on new rules aimed at protecting a subsection of “gig economy” workers within the bloc.

The deal aims to protect so-called “platform workers”, whom many labour advocates have argued are legally under-protected. Many are defined as self-employed despite being almost entirely reliant on a single company for their earnings.

Brussels has now provisionally agreed a substantial expansion of the rights of staff in the sector, with the likes of those working for firms such as Uber and Deliveroo set to be given additional protections under EU law.

The principal among these new protections is that it will now be up to digital-platform owners to prove that their workers are self-employed rather than employees, the latter designation coming with numerous legal safeguards.

Platforms will also be banned from firing or dismissing workers based on any decision taken by an algorithm or other automated process. The gathering of certain worker data, such as their personal beliefs and their private exchanges with colleagues, will also be prohibited.

Speaking in the wake of the agreement, left-wing rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini MEP welcomed it as helping to achieve fairer conditions for workers in the gig economy.

“It is a balanced text that protects workers, good employers and provides for a European level playing field,” she said.

Others appeared to be less enamoured with the proposed arrangements.

Speaking to Brussels Signal, a spokesman for Uber complained that the new directive has left both workers and platform owners “in the dark”.

“After more than two years of negotiations, today’s agreement fails to deliver on any of the Directive’s original goals,” the spokesman said.

“If approved, it will leave hundreds of thousands of platform workers in the dark, without any legal certainty or security over their status and working conditions.”

Others have speculated that the new deal is also unlikely to get the necessary approval from Member States, with France in particular said to have been a key adversary to the proposal when it was initially debated last year.

It is unclear how those in the European Parliament and European Council now feel about the text, which has since been watered down from the original draft put forward in 2023.