Atypical freelancers get EU-wide ‘gig economy’ rights

Atypical freelancers are in line for new working rights applicable across the EU to help end “the limbo” that their non-conventional employment status may have landed them in.

Approved by the European Parliament, the rights include caps on hours and probationary periods; ‘day-one’ notifications of pay and tasks, and cancelled work compensation.

'Without consequences'

The rights also give workers the ability to refuse, “without consequences”, an assignment outside predetermined hours, and oblige the engager to provide free training -- in work hours.

So ‘voucher-based workers,’ like child-minders or gardeners, for example, will benefit, as will platform workers like Uber drivers, and other ‘gig’ workers on zero-hours contracts.

In fact, as long as the individual works for three hours a week and 12 hours per four weeks on average, they are eligible for the rights, which will not apply to the genuinely self-employed.

That means about 3million workers will be entitled to the rights and they are due to be in force in every EU member state -- which have been given three years to put them in place.

'Increasing digitalisation'

They have been drawn up because, “non-standards jobs have become more prevalent due to changes in the world of work, such as increasing digitalisation”, but such work has led to ambiguities.

“Flexibility must be combined with minimum protection,” European Parliament officials added.

“An increase in the number of part-time, temporary and on-demand contracts, and in the peer-to-peer exchanges known as the collaborative economy…has rendered working relationships unstable and increasingly unpredictable.

“For instance, on-demand or intermittent work, exclusivity clauses and involuntary part-time or temporary work pose problems of predictability and stability.”

'Unpredictable work schedules'

Cue the new rights package stipulating that all workers need to be informed from day one as a general principle (and no later than seven days where justified), of the “essential aspects” of their engagement.

These aspects include a description of duties, a starting date, the duration, remuneration, standard working day or, for those with "unpredictable work schedules," the reference hours.

“All workers who have been in limbo will now be granted minimum rights thanks to this directive,” said Enrique Calvet Chambon MEP. “From now on no employer will be able to abuse the flexibility in the labour market.”

 

17th April 2019

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