OFFICIAL: Delivery riders become company staff as Spain’s labour reform kicks in

OFFICIAL: Delivery riders become company staff as Spain's labour reform kicks in
Photo: Lluis Gené/AFP
Spain's cabinet on Tuesday approved a labour law reform that recognises delivery riders working for firms such as Deliveroo or UberEats as staff in a first in the European Union.

The modifications will be published in the state’s official journal in the coming days and firms will have three months to comply.

“Spain is now at the forefront of international legislation. There is no other country in the world… that has dared legislate on this matter,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz told a press conference.

It is the first legislation passed in Europe that explicitly regulates the status of delivery workers who get around on bikes and motorcycles and whose numbers have exploded in recent years.

California passed a law in 2019, the only one of its kind in the United States, requiring companies in the “gig economy” to treat their workers as employees and provide them with social protection.

But it was ultimately rejected in a referendum last November.

In Europe, delivery workers are generally considered as self-employed, especially in France.The legislative decree “recognises the presumption of employment for workers who provide paid delivery services” via such digital companies, a ministry statement said.

“A young person riding a bike with an app or a mobile device is not an entrepreneur,” said Diaz.

Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Paying social contributions

Companies will now have to pay contributions so their delivery riders can receive social benefits.

Under terms of the reform, companies using riders must make available to unions details about how they share out the delivery orders and the bonuses paid to riders.The pledge came after a Supreme Court ruling in September that there was a “working relationship” between riders and Barcelona-based food delivery app Glovo.

In Spain, as in other countries, the riders have repeatedly denounced their precarious working conditions, taking legal action to demand recognition as salaried staff, which would guarantee them benefits such as paid holidays and sick leave.

In early March, Deliveroo, Stuart, Glovo and UberEats issued a statement warning that such “forced labourisation… endangers a sector that contributes 700 million euros ($850 million) to Spain’s GDP”.

The main delivery workers union, Riders X Rights, denounced the reform as “insufficient” while other smaller unions fear the reform will drive platforms to cut back on jobs.

According to a report on Wednesday in Spanish newssite El Español, the labour reform will also mean that Glovo and Deliveroo no longer operate in Spain’s towns and smaller cities.

Jobs in Spain

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