Uber proposes California-style gig work reforms in Europe


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

Philip Pacheco | AFP through Getty Pictures

LONDON — Uber known as on the European Union to introduce a framework for gig economic system employees, floating a mannequin just 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 via an app, with out reclassifying them as workers.

It is a thorny problem for Uber and different corporations within the so-called gig economic system that encourage non permanent, versatile working fashions in favor of full-time employment. Final yr, Uber, Lyft and different companies efficiently fought in opposition to proposals in California which might have given their drivers the standing of workers somewhat than impartial contractors.

Californian voters approved Proposition 22, a measure that might permit drivers for app-based transportation and supply corporations to be categorized as impartial 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 impartial employees,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi mentioned in a weblog publish Monday. 

“This might embrace introducing new legal guidelines such because the laws not too long ago enacted in California,” he added.

Uber mentioned the EU might alternatively set new rules via a “European mannequin of social dialogue” between platform employees, coverage makers and {industry} representatives.

‘Third means’

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

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

The corporate’s European white paper calls for brand new guidelines that embody an “industry-wide stage enjoying discipline” and units a “constant earnings baseline” for employees throughout totally different platforms.

The transfer comes forward of a evaluate from the European Fee on Feb. 24, which goals to put the groundwork for regulation of gig economic 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 throughout the pandemic.

In the meantime, drivers are making calls for of their very own on Uber’s enterprise practices throughout Europe. Within the U.Ok., the Supreme Court docket is about to ship a ruling on whether or not Uber’s drivers needs to be categorized as employees 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 isn’t the primary time Uber has confronted scrutiny in Europe. In 2017, the European Court docket of Justice dealt Uber a significant setback by ruling it was a transportation agency somewhat than a digital firm, paving the way in which for stricter regulation of the agency. And London twice banned the app from working within the U.Ok. capital over security considerations. Uber was issued a temporary London license in September.