Uber warns job losses would be ‘equivalent to VW going out of business’ if a new EU law to turn gig workers into de facto employees is passed


A senior executive at Uber has expressed concerns over Brussels' proposed regulations that would classify gig workers as employees, stating that it would have significant consequences for the ride-hailing service. Anabel Díaz, Head of Uber's mobility division in Europe, urged lawmakers to consider rules that respect the flexibility desired by self-employed workers.

Díaz warned that if Uber were forced to reclassify drivers and couriers across the EU, it could result in a 50-70% reduction in work opportunities. As a result, Uber may have to cease operations in many of the 3,000 cities it currently serves. Additionally, if drivers were granted full working rights, prices for consumers could rise by up to 40%, as estimated by the European Commission, and longer wait times could be expected due to the decreased number of drivers.

The EU's main institutions are currently in negotiations over the final text of the Platform Work Directive, which aims to improve conditions for gig workers. The proposed legislation would give workers for digital platforms, including ride-hailing and food delivery drivers, the default rights of full-time employees. This would represent a significant change in Europe where most platform workers are considered self-employed and lack access to labor rights and benefits.

Díaz cautioned that similar rulings in Spain and Geneva, which classified drivers as employees, resulted in devastating job losses. If Uber were required to bear the costs of employment, they would have to consolidate hours among fewer workers. This would mean that drivers and couriers would have to apply for available roles, adhere to specific schedules and locations, accept every trip offered, and agree not to work with other apps.

While Uber is committed to the European social model, Díaz stressed that the proposed legislation could have severe implications for both the company and its workers.  

Anabel Díaz, the head of Uber's mobility division in Europe, refuted claims that proposed changes in the law would impact Uber's profitability in Europe. She stated that their ability to grow in countries like Germany and Spain using a third-party employment model demonstrates their resilience. In Germany, Uber contracts fleet management companies to employ drivers, adhering to local regulations. This approach leads to higher prices and limited availability in major cities where demand is consistent. 

In the UK, Uber operates under a different model due to a significant court ruling in 2021. Drivers are designated as "workers," granting them certain benefits such as holiday pay and sick leave, although they fall short of being classified as full employees. 

Despite warnings from Uber and other industry competitors like Bolt regarding the proposed rules for platform workers, EU officials have pushed back against what they perceive as lobbying tactics from the tech industry. Nicolas Schmit, the EU commissioner for jobs and social rights, emphasized the importance of setting clear criteria and considering the facts. If a platform is determined to be an employer, the individuals working for it should be entitled to the same rights and protection as workers in traditional "offline" settings.  

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