The gig economy: employment status in Belgium and beyond

Explore the findings of PwC Legal’s gig economy study, a roundup of the social legislation on this new way of working in 10 western European countries.

New ways of working, new uncertainties

In response to the evolving marketplace, the gig economy was born. Its inception drew immediate controversy, with companies like Uber and Deliveroo praised by some and demonised by others for their revolutionary and atypical ways of working. One of the main causes of controversy is the high degree of uncertainty faced by people performing services in the gig economy. The major concerns relate to their contractual and social security status:

  • Are they self-employed? If so, does this mean that the company can’t exercise any authority over them and/or control them?

  • Are they considered employees? If so, are they able to enjoy the flexibility that comes with the self-employed status inherent to the gig economy?

These questions are compelling businesses and labour courts worldwide. A study by IDEA Consult shows that next to the aging of society, digitisation will have the greatest impact on the labour market in the coming years. It can be fairly stated that time is of the essence, and we must conclude that the present labour laws may no longer be sufficiently adapted to current and future needs.

Employees or self-employed?

Stakeholders in the gig economy are screaming for legislative clarity. If we want international companies to invest in the local economy, then so should we. In its 2016 ‘European Agenda for the Collaborative Economy’,  the European Commission urges the individual Member States to assess their national employment rules for adequacy, taking into account the relevance of the dichotomy of employees versus self-employed workers. In short, it’s up to the Member States to ensure the future relevance of their respective national legal frameworks.

Only 3 out of 10 surveyed countries have taken a legislative initiative to provide a fitting legal framework for gig economy workers.

To better understand the classification and treatment of workers in the gig economy in a number of prominent EU Member States, we investigated the various national legislations and legislative initiatives within our Network.

“There’s no single status that accommodates the needs of the gig economy. The proof of this is that in the majority of the countries we examined, there are court cases that question the status of workers in the gig economy. We should dare to completely rethink the labour law framework to find a balance between social protection and the needs of the current economy."

"Legal certainty, transparency and flexibility ought to be the cornerstones of a new labour law. The goal of this exercise is to find an appropriate legal framework without needlessly complicating our labour law any further.”

Pascale Moreau, Partner, PwC Legal

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Pascale Moreau

Pascale Moreau

Partner, PwC Legal BV/SRL

Tel: +32 479 90 02 76

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