EU seeks to improve conditions for casual workers

Rise of Internet companies such as Uber a factor in changes

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission proposed new rules on training, overtime and probation on Thursday to improve conditions for an estimated 4 to 6 million casual workers who face low job security, poor social protection and little access to training.

Work conditions for casual laborers are a politically sensitive topic in Europe, in part because of new internet companies such as Uber.

Some working conditions raised concerns among non-traditional types of labour, such as temporary work and delivery or driving jobs assigned via digital apps, the Commission said.

Workers should be able to see a written contract on their first day, rather than within two months as at present, the executive said.

This should spell out training possibilities and overtime pay. Probationary periods should be limited to six months, working hours should be more predictable and non-competition clauses limiting other job opportunities should be eliminated.

"An employer cannot prevent a worker from taking up another job in parallel," Commissioner Marianne Thyssen told a news conference. "A cycle courier working irregular hours with a dispatching service can find a job for a couple of days a week with another employer."

The Commission said these rules would, apart from benefiting workers, also bring legal certainty to employers.

The proposals still need to be discussed with the 28 members states and the European Parliament before becoming law.

Industry lobby group BusinessEurope said it supported proposals to inform workers about their conditions, but said that including minimum rights for workers was unacceptable for businesses. 

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