Uber proposes California-style gig work reforms in Europe

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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaks at a product launch occasion in San Francisco, California on September 26, 2019.

Philip Pacheco | AFP by way of Getty Photographs

LONDON — Uber known as on the European Union to introduce a framework for gig financial system staff, floating a mannequin much like that adopted by California after a contentious fight over the employment standing of its drivers.

The U.S. ride-hailing big shared a “white paper” with EU competitors chief Margrethe Vestager, jobs commissioner Nicolas Schmit and different officers. It urged policymakers to implement reforms that shield drivers and couriers working by way of an app, with out reclassifying them as workers.

It is a thorny subject for Uber and different corporations within the so-called gig financial system that encourage short-term, versatile working fashions in favor of full-time employment. Final 12 months, Uber, Lyft and different corporations efficiently fought towards proposals in California which might have given their drivers the standing of workers somewhat than unbiased contractors.

Californian voters approved Proposition 22, a measure that may permit drivers for app-based transportation and supply corporations to be labeled as unbiased contractors whereas nonetheless entitling them to new advantages like minimal earnings and automobile insurance coverage.

“We’re calling on policymakers, different platforms and social representatives to maneuver rapidly to construct a framework for versatile incomes alternatives, with industry-wide requirements that every one platform corporations should present for unbiased staff,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi mentioned in a weblog put up Monday. 

“This might embrace introducing new legal guidelines such because the laws just lately enacted in California,” he added.

Uber mentioned the EU may alternatively set new ideas by way of a “European mannequin of social dialogue” between platform staff, coverage makers and {industry} representatives.

‘Third method’

Uber has warned that, by treating its drivers as workers, authorities would give the agency no alternative however to extend prices — and that these prices could be handed right down to clients.

Uber envisions a “third way” for gig financial system employment standing that provides drivers some protections whereas nonetheless permitting them flexibility of contract work. Within the U.S., the agency recommended advantages funds that can be utilized by staff for issues like medical health insurance and paid day off.

The corporate’s European white paper calls for brand spanking new guidelines that embody an “industry-wide stage taking part in area” and units a “constant earnings baseline” for staff throughout totally different platforms.

The transfer comes forward of a evaluation from the European Fee on Feb. 24, which goals to put the groundwork for regulation of gig financial system platforms.

It additionally arrives at a time when meals supply is booming whereas taxi-hailing providers have been severely impacted by coronavirus lockdowns in Europe. Firms like Uber and Deliveroo faced criticism for failing to supply drivers with a security web in the course of the pandemic.

In the meantime, drivers are making calls for of their very own on Uber’s enterprise practices throughout Europe. Within the U.Okay., the Supreme Courtroom is ready to ship a ruling on whether or not Uber’s drivers needs to be labeled as staff entitled to protections like a minimal wage and vacation pay. Elsewhere, Uber drivers within the Netherlands are demanding the corporate reveals how its algorithms handle their work.

It is not the primary time Uber has confronted scrutiny in Europe. In 2017, the European Courtroom of Justice dealt Uber a significant setback by ruling it was a transportation agency somewhat than a digital firm, paving the best way for stricter regulation of the agency. And London twice banned the app from working within the U.Okay. capital over security considerations. Uber was issued a temporary London license in September.