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European Commission drafts directive designating gig workers as employees

Lyft and Uber logos are shown on a car. The European Commission proposed a directive Thursday that could turn gig workers for ride-share companies and others into employees. File Photo by Raysonho/Wikimedia/UPI
Lyft and Uber logos are shown on a car. The European Commission proposed a directive Thursday that could turn gig workers for ride-share companies and others into employees. File Photo by Raysonho/Wikimedia/UPI

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced initial steps that would turn independent contractors, or gig workers, into employees, giving them traditional labor rights and benefits enjoyed by other full-time employees.

The move would target such companies as ride-sharing business Uber and various delivery jobs but could have a wide-ranging effect on numerous other industries as well.

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"The proposed directive seeks to ensure that people working through digital labor platforms are granted the legal employment status that corresponds to their actual work arrangements," the European Commission said in a statement about the directive. "It provides a list of control criteria to determine whether the platform is an 'employer.'

"If the platform meets at least two of those criteria, it is legally presumed to be an employer. The people working through them would therefore enjoy the labor and social rights that come with the status of 'worker.'"

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The directive said the "worker" status, would give that person the right to a minimum wage, collective bargaining, working time and health protection, the right to paid leave or improved access to protection against work accidents and unemployment and sickness benefits among other benefits.

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"The clear criteria the commission proposes will bring the platforms increased legal certainty, reduced litigation costs and it will facilitate business planning," the commission said.

The directive could change the employment status of up to 4.1 million gig workers throughout the European Union. It said more than 500 digital platforms using gig workers generated revenue of $15.8 billion in 2020.

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Uber has pushed back, saying the directive will put jobs and the business models at risk, shrinking revenues. It said those services have proven vital during the pandemic.

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