The problem of the job: who is an employee, anyway?

The boom in the concert economy has turned the world of work upside down. It also raised a fundamental question: who is an employee, anyway?

Today anyone can download an app and start their own business. Some of the most visible gig workers are drivers who use their own vehicles to deliver people, food or other goods. Companies like Uber, using algorithms, act as fixer-uppers between those looking for services (one ride to the airport, one meal delivered) and those offering them.

The concerts have been a godsend for millions of people. It offers many benefits, including flexible working hours and the ability to choose which job to take.

But does he do it? Critics say that in some cases pay-per-view has been nothing more than bogus self-employment in which workers’ freedoms are so curtailed that they amount to being employees – but without the benefits from which employees benefit.

Last week, the European Commission announced the biggest effort yet to bring light and fair play to the murky world of work on stage. Its proposed rules would set clear standards for determining who is an employee (and who deserves the benefits of an employee) and who is an independent contractor.

For example, the commission said that if companies don’t allow their employees to work for other companies, have rules about employee appearance, and require details of exactly how tasks are to be performed, they may have turned their employees into employees.

Under the new rules, concert workers could not be fired via an automated computer algorithm without an explanation. Any important decision concerning them would be conveyed through human contact. More importantly, employers, not concert workers, would be required to prove whether or not their workers were employees.

The goal is not to try to kill, or even hinder, the growth of the odd-job economy, said Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Rights last week. social. It is, he says, “to ensure that these jobs are quality jobs.” … We do not want this new economy to only give poor quality or precarious jobs.

Stage work involves more than pilots. Potentially, this is anyone who uses an app to look for work. For example, many are housekeepers or home health aides. The EU says the proposed rules could affect up to 4.1 million on-demand workers out of an estimated 28 million across the EU’s 27 countries. This number could reach 43 million in the coming years.

The rules should take years to finalize. The reluctance will come from Uber and other companies who fear that excessive regulation will restrict technological innovation in the workplace, depriving customers of the convenient and affordable services they depend on.

But any new system that exploits workers is a step backwards. Efforts to put in place rules to ensure a level playing field between employers and workers can benefit everyone.

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