EU lawmakers okay minimum rights for gig economy workers

New rules include right to refuse work outside regular hours and requirement to inform workers about working conditions

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a law setting minimum rights for workers in the "gig economy," a move that may benefit Uber drivers, Deliveroo and Just Eat food couriers and others.

Gig workers are usually treated as independent contractors with none of the employment rights guarantees in more regular jobs, something the companies say gives flexibility to all but which critics say often results in exploitation.

The new rules will apply to those who work a minimum of three hours per week and 12 hours per four weeks on average, including casual or short-term workers, those who work on-demand and paid trainees and apprentices.

The rights include informing workers about the working conditions such as duration and remuneration from day one.

Workers will also be able to refuse, without consequences, an assignment outside predetermined hours or be compensated if the assignment is not canceled in time.

Employers will not be allowed to hinder workers from working for other companies and will have to provide free mandatory training.

"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 labor market," lawmaker Enrique Calvet Chambon from the ALDE liberal group, said.

EU governments, which have agreed to the rules, will have three years to enforce them.

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