Human Rights Watch (HRW) Monday said that the EU should pass clear legislation to protect people working for digital labor platforms, like Uber. HRW said the purpose of the legislation should be to reduce employment misclassification in the industry and create world-leading safeguards against the potentially harmful effects of workplace automation.
The Employment Committee of the European Parliament approved a series of changes to the 2021 European Commission-proposed legislation on December 12, 2022 that granted legal employment status to digital labor platform workers. Since, it cleared committee, the changes can now move to the larger body for final approval. However, the changes are still subject to debate by lawmakers at a plenary meeting on January 16. The EU member states also failed to reach an agreement on the changes after a December 8, 2022 meeting.
HRW supports the changes and calls it the ”EU’s best effort yet.” HRW said:
The compromise text agreed to on December 12 would establish a clear legal presumption that workers for digital labor platforms are in an employment relationship with the platforms, as opposed to self-employed independent contractors. Employee status would entitle these workers to specific national protections that help ensure their rights to an adequate standard of living and safe and healthy working conditions, such as the minimum wage, due process in dismissal procedures, and guaranteed work hours.
The changes are designed to bring stability and transparency to the rapidly developing industry of digital labor. The changes would institute boundaries on automated decision-making monitors and biometric identification barriers. The changes also require that digital labor companies disclose how they use automated systems to track worker performance, known as algorithmic management.
Trade unions and civil organizations pushed for the changes in an October 2022 joint letter. In it, the groups called for “an effective instrument to fight bogus self-employment and improve working and living conditions of people working in the platform economy.”