Boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

Joana de Sá writes about the new adopted rules on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.

Boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy | The Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019, on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union

Some new forms of employment vary significantly from traditional employment relationships with regard to predictability, creating uncertainty with regard to the applicable rights and the social protection of the workers concerned. In this evolving world of work, there is therefore an increased need for workers to be fully informed about their essential working conditions, which should occur in a timely manner and in written form to which workers have easy access.

In order adequately to frame the development of new forms of employment, workers in the Union should also be provided with a number of new minimum rights aiming to promote security and predictability in employment relationships while achieving upward convergence across Member States and preserving labour market adaptability.

An employer's obligation to inform their employees on the conditions applicable to their contracts is regulated by Directive 91/533/EEC. Major shifts in the labour market due to demographic trends and digitalisation, spawning a growing number of non-standard employment relationships, have made it necessary to revise the directive.

The above mention directive does not cover all workers in the EU, leading to poor protection of certain workers. Many workers do not receive a written confirmation of their working conditions or do not know sufficiently in advance, when they shall work. At least 2-3 million non-standard workers could benefit from this revised directive, providing them with a better understanding of their working conditions and their rights at work.

At 2019, June 20, Council adopted new rules on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union | Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council that are applicable to all individuals working more than 3 hours per week over four weeks (i.e. over 12 hours per month). The new law introduces new minimum rights, as well as new rules on the information to be provided to workers about their working conditions. Its main aim is to respond to labour market challenges triggered by demographic developments, digitalisation and new forms of employment.

The directive requires employers to inform workers, as from their first working day and no later than the seventh calendar day, of the essential aspects of the employment relationship, such as:

  • The identities of the parties to the relationship and the place and the nature of work;
  • The initial basic amount of remuneration and the amount of paid leave;
  • The duration of the standard working day or week when the work pattern is predictable;
  • The identity of the social security institution receiving social security contributions, where this is the responsibility of the employer.

When the work pattern is entirely or largely unpredictable, employers will also have to inform workers of the reference hours and days within which they may be required to work, the minimum period of advance notice the workers shall receive before the start of work, and the number of guaranteed paid hours.

The directive sets a number of further minimum rights for workers, including the rights:

  • To take up a job in parallel with another employer;
  • To limit the probationary period to a maximum of 6 months, with longer periods allowed only in case where this is in the interest of the worker or is justified by the nature of the work;
  • To request, after at least six months service with the same employer, employment with more predictable and secure working conditions;
  • To receive training cost-free, when such training is required by Union or national legislation.

We have to consider that, certain groups of workers may be excluded from some of the provisions, e.g. civil servants, armed forces, emergency services or law enforcement services.

EU Member States are free to adopt or apply legislation which is more favourable to workers will, and all of them have until 2022 to transpose the new rules into their national legislation.

Joana de Sá | Sócia | joana.sa@pra.pt