The European Union approved two new labour protection laws recently. This time, for the two not so hyped sects, the whistleblowers and the ones earning their income via the ‘gig economy’.
As for the whistleblowers, with the new law, they receive an increased protection landmark legislation aimed at encouraging reports of wrongdoing. On the other hand, for those working for ‘on-demand’ jobs, thus, termed as the gig economy, the law sets minimum rights and demands increased transparency for such workers. Let’s have a brief look at each of the newly approved by the EU.
Whistleblowers’ shield against retaliation
On Tuesday, the EU parliament approved a new law for whistleblowers safeguarding them from any retaliation within an organization. The law protects whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of punishment.
“The law now needs to be approved by EU ministers. Member states will then have two years to comply with the rules”, the EU proposal states.
Transparency International calls this as “pathbreaking legislation”, which will also give employees a “greater legal certainty around their rights and obligations”.
The new law creates a safe channel which allows the whistleblowers to report of an EU law breach both within an organization and to public authorities. “It is the first time whistleblowers have been given EU-wide protection. The law was approved by 591 votes, with 29 votes against and 33 abstentions”, the BBC reports.
In cases where no appropriate action is taken by the organization’s authorities even after reporting, whistleblowers are allowed to make public disclosure of the wrongdoing by communicating with the media.
European Commission Vice President, Frans Timmermans, says, “potential whistleblowers are often discouraged from reporting their concerns or suspicions for fear of retaliation. We should protect whistleblowers from being punished, sacked, demoted or sued in court for doing the right thing for society.” He further added, “This will help tackle fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance and damage to people’s health and the environment.”
“The European Commission says just 10 members – France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden, and the UK – had a “comprehensive law” protecting whistleblowers”, the BBC reports.
“Attempts by some states to water down the reform earlier this year were blocked at an early stage of the talks with Luxembourg, Ireland, and Hungary seeking to have tax matters excluded.
However, a coalition of EU states, including Germany, France, and Italy, eventually prevailed in keeping tax revelations within the proposal”, the Reuters report.
“If member states fail to properly implement the law, the European Commission can take formal disciplinary steps against the country and could ultimately refer the case to the European Court of Justice”, BBC reports.
To know more about this new law for whistleblowers, read the official proposal.
EU grants protection to workers in Gig economy (casual or short-term employment)
In a vote on Tuesday, the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) announced minimum rights for workers with on-demand, voucher-based or platform jobs, such as Uber or Deliveroo. However, genuinely self-employed workers would be excluded from the new rules.
“The law states that every person who has an employment contract or employment relationship as defined by law, collective agreements or practice in force in each member state should be covered by these new rights”, BBC reports.
“This would mean that workers in casual or short-term employment, on-demand workers, intermittent workers, voucher-based workers, platform workers, as well as paid trainees and apprentices, deserve a set of minimum rights, as long as they meet these criteria and pass the threshold of working 3 hours per week and 12 hours per 4 weeks on average”, according to EU’s official website.
For this, all workers need to be informed from day one as a general principle, but no later than seven days where justified. Following are the specific set of rights to cover new forms of employment includes:
- Workers with on-demand contracts or similar forms of employment should benefit from a minimum level of predictability such as predetermined reference hours and reference days. They should also be able to refuse, without consequences, an assignment outside predetermined hours or be compensated if the assignment was not cancelled in time.
- Member states shall adopt measures to prevent abusive practices, such as limits to the use and duration of the contract.
- The employer should not prohibit, penalize or hinder workers from taking jobs with other companies if this falls outside the work schedule established with that employer.
Enrique Calvet Chambon, the MEP responsible for seeing the law through, said, “This directive is the first big step towards the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, affecting all EU workers. All workers who have been in limbo will now be granted minimum rights thanks to this directive, and the European Court of Justice rulings, from now on no employer will be able to abuse the flexibility in the labour market.”
To know more about this new law on Gig economy, visit EU’s official website.