Last year, gig economy companies held a successful referendum campaign in California to classify drivers as independent contractors and give them limited benefits. Although a judge ruled in August violated the California Constitution, its decision is being appealed, and companies are pursuing similar laws in Massachusetts.
The Biden administration suggested that gig workers should be treated as employees, but did not take significant steps to change labor laws. In May, the Department of Labor reversed a Trump-era rule that would make it harder to reclassify temporary workers in the country as employees.
In Europe, Spain offers a preview of the potential effects of the EU proposal. The country’s so-called Riders Law, which went into effect in August, required food delivery services like Uber and Deliveroo, which covers an estimated 30,000 workers, to reclassify workers as employees.
Uber responded by hiring several staffing agents to hire a fleet of drivers for Uber Eats, a strategy to comply with the law but avoid the responsibility of directly managing thousands of people. Deliveroo, partially owned by Amazon, has left the Spanish market.
Companies prefer policies similar to those in France, where the government proposes to allow workers to choose union representatives who can negotiate with companies on issues such as wages and benefits. Uber also pointed to Italy, where a major union and food delivery company has struck a deal that guarantees minimum wages, insurance and safety equipment but does not classify workers as employees.
Greens MP Kim van Sparrentak, who helped draft a report on platform workers in the European Parliament released this year, lauded the commission’s proposal as “pretty radical”.
“It could set a new standard for workers’ rights,” said Ms. Van Sparrentak.
Adam SatarianoReported from London and Elian Peltierfrom Brussels. Kate Conger contributing reporting.