In order to try to tackle growing social inequality, rights for casual workers, such as those in the “gig economy”, and others with non-standard contracts is sought to be better protected more social protection and rights by the European Commission.
After pressure from populist forces that accuse Brussels of having pursued ultra-liberal policies to the detriment of workers, the Commission’s consultation document on these plans is part of a broader reworking of the EU’s economic priorities.
EU’s social rights that could reduce the growing insecurity caused by new types of jobs offered by firms like Uber and food-delivery service Deliveroo and could partly limit workers’ flexibility, is proposed to be substantially reviewed by the document.
Including those on very short-term, part-time and zero-hour contracts who in some EU member countries have lower safeguards, Brussels is proposing to extend full social protection and other forms of security to all workers.
Jobs with ultra-flexible working hours, no regular pay and fewer employment protections are the conditions of jobs that a growing number of people, especially the young in the EU, have even as most EU workers have full-time, permanent contracts.
The commission said in the consultation paper to be presented on Monday, they accounted for more than one third of the total workforce in the 28-country bloc in 2015 and that share is growing.
The document said that in absence of alternatives, most of these employees have to work under these conditions.
The commission’s document said that while some new contracts, such as casual or voucher-based work, very worrying, most of the non-standard workers in the EU tend to have lower levels of social and health security.
Companies like Uber has not had its license renewed in London and such companies are already facing legal disputes in several EU countries and now with the Commission’s proposals, there could be increased costs for such companies.
The workers should be given explanations by their employers for not having a permanent contract after a few years in the same job and should be properly informed about the conditions of their employment, the Commission is proposing.
The commission said that “after a predefined continuous period”, casual workers should also be entitled to a minimum number of guaranteed hours.
But a loophole for employers such as Uber and Deliveroo would be provided as the enhanced protection would not be applicable to self-employed workers.]
While although in Britain this categorization has recently been challenged by the government, Uber says its drivers are self-employed.
The consultation document said that because of the fact that they “continue to present challenges from the point of view of job security and adequate working conditions”, other non-standard work contracts, such as paid traineeships and temporary agency work, are also under the Commission’s scrutiny.
Brussels wants to introduce a maximum duration of employee probation in order to reduce abuses linked to these forms of contracts.
The Commission will initially discuss its plans with trade unions and employers, followed by legislative proposals.
(Adapted from Reuters)