Uber Urges Europe Not To Classify Its Drivers As Employees, Suggests California-Like Legislation To Protect Gig Economy Workers

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Uber Urges Europe Not To Classify Its Drivers As Employees, Suggests California-Like Legislation To Protect Gig Economy Workers

Topline Uber urged European lawmakers to set out protections for gig workers while still recognizing them as independent contractors Monday, suggesti

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Topline

Uber urged European lawmakers to set out protections for gig workers while still recognizing them as independent contractors Monday, suggesting the European Union look to adopt legislation similar to that recently enacted in California as the trade bloc considers introducing new rules governing gig economy platforms.

Young man holding cell phone waiting for car

Europe is considering regulating gig economy platforms.


getty

Key Facts

In a blog post Monday, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi defended Uber’s controversial practice of classifying its workers as independent contractors and called on the EU to recognize the value it brings in terms of job creation and flexibility in any new rules. 

The company shared a white paper with EU officials calling for an “industry-wide level playing field” ahead of a European Commission review on Feb. 24.

The review is expected to lay the foundation for more comprehensive gig economy regulations later in 2021.

Khosrowshahi reiterated gig platforms’ “third way” compromise, which would give workers some protections without reclassifying them as employees. 

“We believe a new approach is possible—one where having access to protections and benefits doesn’t come at the cost of flexibility and of job creation,” Khosrowshahi said. 

The regulation could resemble California’s controversial Prop. 22 legislation, Khosrowshahi said, “or (be) based on a more European model of social dialogue, where platform workers, policymakers and social representatives work together to set earning principles.”

Crucial Quote 

“We’re calling on policymakers, other platforms and social representatives to move quickly to build a framework for flexible earning opportunities, with industry-wide standards that all platform companies must provide for independent workers,” Khosrowshahi said.

Key Background

Gig platforms’ practice of classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees is controversial. Critics argue that it deprives workers of basic workplace rights like wage protection, time off and healthcare and allows companies to get away without paying tax on employees. Companies argue that workers value the flexibility of being an independent contractor and that prices would inevitably rise if forced to classify all workers as employees. Gig economy companies in the U.S., including Uber and rival Lyft, scored a major victory last November when voters passed Prop. 22, which would allow such firms to continue treating workers as contractors, providing that they will provide some protections to workers like a minimum wage. California’s supreme court threw out a challenge to the proposition in February.

What To Watch For

The U.K. Supreme Court is due to rule on gig workers’ rights Friday after Uber appealed all the way to the country’s top court following an employment tribunal ruling granting two Uber drivers workers’ rights in 2016.   

Further Reading

Uber, Lyft Drivers In California To Remain Independent Contractors After Prop. 22 Victory (Forbes)

A Better Deal for European Platform Workers (Uber)

On the job but unprotected — why European welfare is failing gig workers (Politico)

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