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Prior To EU Law On Gig Workers, Uber Defends Classification Of Its Drivers As Contractors

Prior To EU Law On Gig Workers, Uber Defends Classification Of Its Drivers As Contractors
With the regulators of the European Union are considering framing and implementation of new rules and regulations for protecting the workers engaged in the gig economy, the ride hailing company Uber has urged the EU regulators to consider and recognise the value that is added to the economy in the form of job creation by independent contracts.
The United States based Uber has in recent years faced severe criticism from multiple quarter about identifying and classifying its drivers as independent contractors and not as employees who are generally entitled to a host of employees rights such as obtaining a minimum wage, getting paid holidays and mandatory rest breaks.
The history of Uber in successfully defending its business model is mixed. The company managed to score a victory in November last year in California, United States, when local voters voted to pass a proposition which allowed the company to classify its drivers as contractors. The company is also set to receive a decision on one of the biggest tests to its business models and classification of its drivers and contractors with the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom scheduled to deliver its verdict on the rights of the workers on February 19 this year.
These comments by Uber were made in a white paper submitted to the European Commission which is set to hold a consultation process on February 24 and in that consultation episode, feedback from workers and employers' representatives on rights of workers in the gig economy will be sought by the EU executive before it drafts laws on the subject by the end of the current year.
"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.
It is important that workers have a high degree of flexibility and to have a significant degree of control on when and where they want to work, he said in the blog post. He also added that any changes made by the EU for the workers of the gig economy should be applicable to the entire sector or industry and not on one company alone. 
"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.
At the initial stage the European Commission seek public feedback on whether there is any need to formulate laws to improve the working conditions of workers in the gig economy which will be followed by another set of consultations about what should be the content of the new regulations, the Commission said.
"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.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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