Posted Friday 26th April 2019
The European Parliament has approved new regulations which guarantee improved minimum rights for ‘gig economy’ workers. The new laws, which will not come into force for another three years, will apply to workers in casual or flexible jobs, who typically fall somewhere between employee and self-employed status, such as Uber drivers and cycle couriers.
The new measures attempt to prevent the exploitation of such workers, and include:
Unless the UK is still a member of the EU in three years, the regulations will not apply here. However, UK law already offers some of the protections contained within the EU regulations, including the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts which has been in force here since May 2015.
Further, in December 2018 the UK government published its Good Work Plan, under the Taylor Review, which introduced a series of forthcoming reforms designed to improve the rights of workers. The UK laws will include:
Overall, the UK’s reforms arguably do more to protect workers than the EU proposals. However, one notable omission from the UK’s Good Work Plan is the right to compensation for late cancellation of work, which will be enjoyed by EU workers from around 2022.
The ability of employers to cancel work without paying their workers is part of the so-called ‘one-sided flexibility’ of zero-hours contracts, as identified in the Taylor Review. Whilst the UK’s proposals do not provide for compensation, the proposed right to request a stable contract appears to be an attempt to fix that problem, although no date has yet been set for such a measure to come into force.
Ultimately, any reforms to gig economy working practices must strike a balance between protecting workers’ rights and maintaining the level of flexibility which makes them attractive to both employers and workers.
This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.
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