Bloomberg News recently reported on new EU ‘guiding principles’ for the collaborative economy. One interesting thing in the report is the definition of a worker:
“The EC guidance relies on a rather strict definition of a worker, provided by the European Court of Justice: “The essential feature of an employment relationship is that for a certain period of time a person performs services for and under the direction of another person in return for which he receives remuneration.” In other words, if the provider of a service doesn’t independently determine its nature, remuneration and the working conditions, an employment relationship exists. This leaves Uber little wiggle room: It sets the rules and the prices. In the European framework, its drivers are at the very least private contractors working for the taxi service. ”
Why is that important? Because it seems the EU wants to make employers legally liable:
“The EC guidance leans toward making “traders” — individuals who provide a service through a sharing platform, be it Airbnb, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or the design marketplace CoContest, legally liable for the services they provide — another step toward treating them as small-business owners. It could be argued that Uber provides the underlying taxi service, not just information for drivers and passengers, which would make it liable as an entity. This is a particularly important issue: According to a Eurobarometer survey, not knowing who will be responsible in case of trouble is the biggest problem European consumers have with gig economy services.”
Bottom line from this study is that companies like Amazon will face more scrutiny in the EU in years to come–which could potentially help workers with major issues. We’ll see.