EU targets Uber, Deliveroo model with plan for workers’ rights

  • The proposal is the EU’s latest initiative to regulate tech companies
  • Rules could apply to more than 4 million workers in the odd-job economy
  • Couriers would be entitled to minimum wage, paid vacation, pensions
  • Just East boss welcomes move
  • Other delivery platforms warn it could lead to job losses

BRUSSELS, Dec.9 (Reuters) – The European Commission on Thursday announced draft rules to give numerous benefits to online businesses such as Uber (UBER.N) and Deliveroo (ROO.L), a move unions say be late, but some companies argue that this will lead to job losses.

The proposal, a world first that must be discussed with EU countries and lawmakers before it becomes law, marks the European Union’s latest attempt to regulate tech companies and ensure a level playing field between online and traditional businesses.

“No one is trying to kill, stop or hinder the development of the platform economy,” Employment and Social Rights Commissioner Nicholas Schmit said at a press conference presenting the proposals.

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However, the rules were necessary to ensure that new business models respected labor laws, he said.

The EU executive said the draft rules could apply to around 4.1 million of the 28 million workers at online platform companies across the 27-country bloc.

Internet companies that set wages and standards of conduct for their couriers should classify them as employees entitled to minimum wages, paid vacation and pension rights, according to the draft rules.

Online food ordering and delivery companies, which are generally loss-making in an industry seen as ripe for consolidation, have fought in courts in Europe and the United States to have passengers and drivers classified as entrepreneurs self-employed rather than as employees – with results.


Reactions to the EU plan have varied, CEO Jitse Groen of Europe’s largest food delivery company Just Eat, which also owns Grubhub in the US, said he welcomed them. favorably.

However, “Delivery Platforms Europe”, a lobby group that includes Uber, Deliveroo, Glovo and Delivery Hero, said in a statement that what part-time drivers wanted most was flexibility in their working hours. and the rules as proposed would result in job losses. .

The Uber Technologies logo is seen on a vehicle in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States, on November 17, 2021. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

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Petra Bolster of the Dutch union FNV, which has won lawsuits against Deliveroo and Uber for employment, noted that the proposal included a list of five tests to help determine when couriers were self-employed.

“It’s naive because the platforms will use it as a toolbox to get around the criteria and get everything out of it,” she said. “It’s their whole profit model to avoid employment costs.”

According to the EU proposal, companies will be considered employers if they monitor workers’ performance by electronic means, restrict their ability to choose their working hours or tasks and prevent them from working for others.

Importantly, the proposal shifts the burden of proof on businesses when a dispute arises over whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.


Leonid Popa, a Russian immigrant who was an Uber driver in the Netherlands for four years, said the idea that he had been self-employed was a “fiction”, but that he found himself out of work and forced to seek government help when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“The whole story was absurd. There was no flexibility, you don’t earn a lot, you have to work more than 40 hours to make a living and there is really no sense of security,” he said. he said, adding that he hoped better regulation would help his former colleagues.

Giles Thorne, analyst for Jefferies, said the EU proposal would not destroy online ordering and delivery models, which were here to stay, but would give couriers a bit more power.

For consumers, the long-term result of European protections for workers would probably be a slight increase in prices or delivery costs.

But “I would bet my last dollar that people would keep ordering bento boxes online,” Thorne said.

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Toby Sterling, Supantha Mukherjee, Nadine Schimroszik; edited by Philip Blenkinsop, Bernadette Baum and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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