In February 2021, when the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that Uber Drivers were ‘Workers, it made a powerful statement about the basic employment protections currently having far-reaching implications for millions of workers in the gig economy. In early December 2021, the European Commission unveiled their attempt at regulating the gig economy (a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, eg, Uber, Fivrr, Task Rabbit, Deliveroo.).

Their proposal looks to offer the EU’s 28 million gig economy workers improved labour protections. The new plans also seek to give companies like Uber and Deliveroo more legal certainty in regard to a divisive question: Are gig economy workers self-employed?

The EU is establishing criteria regarding control exercised over a worker, and should two of the five be met then workers are classified as employees.

The 5 criteria: 

  • Remuneration
  • Electronic supervision
  • Rules around appearance and conduct
  • Restrictions around working hours
  • Other clients

Rather significantly, the plans shift the burden of proof on employment status to companies, rather than the individuals who work for them. Before this shift in thinking individuals had to go to court to prove they are employees. 

Brexit implications 

Since Brexit, the UK is under no obligation to follow the EU laws. However, as mentioned, the Supreme Court verdict in February upheld the finding that Uber drivers are not self-employed, thus striking a similar tone to the EU proposal. 

You can’t please everyone…

However, despite the EU’s best intentions, the new plans have been reported to be unlikely to result in fewer disputes. The criteria proposed contain aspects open to interpretation. Whether the criteria will still be fully comprehensive by the time they become law is also uncertain. 

Furthermore, some gig economy companies estimate that the new rules will force around 250,000 people to quit this type of work, due to it denying them the flexibility that many rely upon. 


Griffin Law is a niche firm of innovative, proactive, tenacious and commercially-minded lawyers. We pride ourselves on our close client relationships, which are uniquely enhanced by our transparent fee guarantee and a commitment to share the risks of litigation. Should you require any further information or if you would like Griffin Law to assist you in relation to an employment law issue, such as, advocacy, grievances, equal pay, unfair dismissal, and whistleblowing, please call us on 01732 525923 or email us at  justice@griffinlaw.co.uk.

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