Uber defends contractors ahead of EU law on gig workers’ rights

has been criticised for classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to rights, such as a minimum wage, paid holidays and rest breaks. — Reuters pic
has been criticised for classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to rights, such as a minimum wage, paid holidays and rest breaks. — Reuters pic

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BRUSSELS, Feb 15 — Uber today called on EU regulators to recognise the value of independent contracts in job creation as they consider new rules to protect gig economy workers.

The company has been criticised for classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to rights, such as a minimum wage, paid holidays and rest breaks.

Uber has a mixed record in defending its business model. It scored a victory in California in November last year when voters passed a proposition allowing it to treat its drivers as contractors. One of its biggest tests so far will be on February 19 when the UK Supreme Court will rule on workers’ rights.

Uber’s comments in a white paper to the European Commission precede a consultation on February 24 when the EU executive will seek feedback from workers and employers’ representatives on gig workers’ rights before drafting laws on the subject by year-end.

“This standard (for platform work) needs to recognise the value of independent work, and be grounded in principles drivers and couriers say are most important to them,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a blog post.

He said workers should have flexibility and control over when and where they want to work and that any changes should apply to the sector and not just one company.

“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 Commission said it will first seek feedback on whether a law is needed to improve the working conditions of gig workers, followed by a second consultation on the content of the law.

“As part of the social partners’ consultation, the European Commission is considering issues, such as precarious working conditions, transparency and predictability of contractual arrangements, health and safety challenges and adequate access to social protection,” a spokeswoman said. — Reuters

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