Business & Technology

Spain declares delivery riders to be staff, in EU first

Spain will be the first in Europe with legislation that explicitly regulates the status of delivery workers who get around on bikes and motorcycles and whose numbers have exploded in recent years - LLUIS GENE / ©AFP
Spain will be the first in Europe with legislation that explicitly regulates the status of delivery workers who get around on bikes and motorcycles and whose numbers have exploded in recent years - LLUIS GENE / ©AFP

(AFP)

Spain’s government announced Thursday a deal that will recognise riders working for delivery firms such as Deliveroo and UberEats as salaried staff following complaints about their working conditions — a first in the EU.

The move came six months after Spain’s leftwing government pledged to clarify the legal status of couriers working for online delivery firms, saying they should be considered employees rather than gig workers. 

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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. 

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 grant them benefits such as paid holidays and sick leave.

“They are now considered as salaried workers and will enjoy all the relevant protections,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said in a televised address.

Spain is “the first country in the European Union to legislate on the matter”, Diaz said.

The delivery firms have repeatedly insisted that they are merely acting as an intermediary between businesses and the riders, who are self-employed and must pay their own health and pension contributions.

The text, which will take the form of a legislative decree, “recognises the presumption of employment for workers who provide paid delivery services” via such digital companies, a ministry statement said. 

Confusion over the riders’ status has also arisen as some court rulings have gone in their favour and others in favour of the delivery firms.

The government pledge came after a Supreme Court ruling in September that there was a “working relationship” between riders and Barcelona-based food delivery app Glovo.

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