The Team

EU approves new rules to protect workers in the “gig” economy
EU approves new rules to protect workers in the “gig” economy

The European Union has approved new rules designed to protect workers employed in the “gig” economy. There has been a flurry of employment tribunal and court decisions in recent years where the self-employed status of workers engaged in the “gig” economy has been challenged, invariably finding in favour of the worker.

Following decisions in the courts, the UK Government instructed a review of the position and this has resulted in proposed legislation that generally mirrors the EU proposals.

Under the proposed law, workers would need to be given details of their rights from the very first day they start with the company. This information should also include details of the rights to paid holiday and sick leave, generally covering holidays and periods of illness.

The UK Government introduced the legislation in December 2018 and the EU Regulations were approved in April 2019 and EU member states have three years to implement them. If and when the UK leaves the European Union, the regulations may continue to apply as the UK Government has indicated it is keen to ensure a close working relationship with the EU and a desire to mirror employment rights for workers. It remains to be seen if that position continues post Brexit.

The EU regulations talk about “essential” elements of the job the employer has to provide to the worker. These include:

  • A description of the duties the worker has to undertake;
  • When their start date is and information on pay;
  • An indication of the expected hours in a working day or some reference to working hours;
  • That there is a right to compensation should the employer cancel work late;
  • Only one probationary period being allowed and that it can only last a maximum of six months;
  • Exclusivity clauses are banned – the worker cannot be prevented from working elsewhere.

These new rules will apply where the worker is employed for a minimum of 3 hours per week when averaged over a 4-week period.

The legislation introduced by the UK Government broadly mirrors that of the EU and it remains to be seen if this will still be the case when it finally passes through its legislative passage. We will keep you advised of developments.