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29.10.2018

EU votes to protect "gig" workers

The EU Employment Committee has approved draft legislation which will give important employment rights to casual, intermittent and on-demand workers.

The new rights will cover:

Transparency

Workers must be given written details of their contractual terms including the length of their assignment, their basic salary, bonus and overtime payments and be told if they are eligible to receive training.

UK position: From April 2019, employers must provide itemised pay statements to all workers (and not just employees).

Probation

Probationary periods will be limited to six months unless the role is managerial where it can extend to nine months. Employers will not be able to unilaterally extend probationary periods.

UK position: There is no maximum time limit for probationary periods, but most are no longer than six months.

Training

The Committee agreed that employers must provide training to workers which should take place during work hours and be paid.

UK position: Under Health and Safety legislation employers must provide a safe workplace and this often involves training. Plus, under the National Minimum Wage legislation, training time is treated as working time (and therefore must be paid) for most types of contracts.

Guaranteed hours

Workers with varied schedules should be informed about guaranteed paid hours.

UK position: There is no requirement for this in the UK, though workers, of course, are required to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for hours worked.

On demand workers

Workers should be given a minimum level of stability and predicability regarding the timing and duration of jobs.

UK position: This is not required if the worker has a zero hours contract. Temporary workers engaged by a recruitment agency under a Swedish Derogation contract must be given suitable information when they are working to enable them to calculate how many hours they are likely to work each week.

Exclusivity

Employers must not prevent a worker from taking jobs with other companies.

UK position: Laws are already in place to prevent employers stopping zero hours workers from working for a different employer. No protection is available for other workers under different types of contract.

What happens next?

The rules will now go to the European Parliament.  If approved, they may become EU law.

Will this impact on the UK post Brexit?

The simple answer is, we don't know as negotiations are still ongoing and we have no clear idea about what the UK's future relationship with the EU will look like after 29 March 2019.

The UK already has legislation in place which addresses some of the concerns raised here, but the bigger issue is the problem of determining the status of casual staff in the first place which is not always easy. 

The law has been interpreted in numerous cases, many involving "gig" economy workers. Despite this, the courts have not been able to devise a single test that will conclusively point to the distinction in all cases. Until this changes, gig workers still have a massive hurdle to clear before they obtain new or existing employment rights.

Need more information?

Please contact Alan Lewis email: alan.lewis@irwinmitchell.com or phone: 44 (0)161 259 1548.

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If you are interested in finding out about how we can support you with our fixed-fee annual retainer, or flexible discounted bank of hours service, please contact Rachel Hetherington: rachel.hetherington@irwinmitchell.com or: 44 (0)121 203 5355 for a no obligation quote.

Enrique Calvet Chambon, who heads the EU Employment Committee, said: “The time to develop minimum rules on working conditions for European citizens has arrived. These minimum rights matter to the lives of 500 million Europeans; it is a response to their expectations and will contribute to balance flexibility and security.””