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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 February 16 - 22  > Measures to protect gig workers’ labor rights needed
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2022 February 16 - 22 [LABOR]

Measures to protect gig workers’ labor rights needed

February 21, 2022
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Workers doing gig economy jobs, the so-called gig workers, are left in a state of having no legal right as "workers". The European Union recently began working to establish legislation that protects gig workers’ rights. It is also necessary for Japan to follow the EU’s move.

“Gig work” is a work style in which individuals receive one-off jobs from platform companies via smartphone apps and get paid per task. In Japan, a typical example of this work arrangement which is also known as “platform work” is the food delivery service platform Uber Eats.

Although gig workers work under orders from platform companies, they are classified as independent contractors and excluded from labor law protections.

They are not covered by the rules on minimum wages and payment of wages for waiting time. In addition, they, sometimes, experience a sudden unilateral termination of their contract.

In recent years, many countries have moved toward establishing a legal framework that protects gig workers’ labor rights. In the U.K., the top court in 2021 ruled that drivers under contract with the U.S. ride-hailing platform giant Uber are “employees”. With this court decision, these drivers became eligible to receive minimum wages, take paid days off and exercise their collective bargaining right. In Spain, a law under which delivery persons belong to online food delivery companies are recognized as “employees” was implemented.

In reaction to these moves, the EU Committee in December 2021 published a draft directive seeking to improve working conditions in platform work. The proposed draft states that platform operators should be recognized as “employers” if they determine the amount of remuneration, assess the performance of work, and restrict the freedom of platform workers to organize their work, and thus platform workers should be eligible to enjoy their rights as “workers”. The draft will be discussed in the EU parliament and the EU Council. If the proposed bill is enacted, EU nations will be required to establish relevant domestic laws.

In Japan, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) recently urged the government to introduce measures to protect the labor rights of workers who are currently designated as independent contractors. The Japanese Communist Party in the Diet has repeatedly demanded government measures that will ensure labor protections for gig workers.

Past related article:
> JCP Kasai calls for labor protections for gig-economy workers [February 5, 2020]
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