Report. The authorities in Valencia have determined that Deliveroo riders are workers, not self-employed freelancers.

Major victory for gig workers in Spain

The labor inspectorate in Valencia, Spain, said riders and drivers working in the gig economy — Deliveroo in this case — are salaried workers, not self-employed. “The term ‘self-employed’ does not define their activity,” it determined. “In fact, the civil relationship hides a business relationship.”

This is a textbook definition of the technique used in the so-called gig economy: the declassification of employed work into freelance self-employment. But the difference is clear. All costs and contributions, including insurance, are borne by the worker and not by the company, in order to maximize profits. In response, Deliveroo got a €160,814 fine from the Spanish labor inspectorate for unpaid contributions.

Deliveroo is going to appeal the decision, arguing that riders are “service providers” and allegedly not directly employed by the company in a business relationship. Deliveroo also argues it changed all employment contracts with its riders, not referring to them as “self-employed” but rather as “economically dependent self-employed workers.”

The inspectorate argues that this change is still not enough to put the situation right. “The platform is not a customer of the workers, but the means through which they can connect with their own customers. The real contract has to prevail on the fake or alleged pact,” namely the “trading relationship” between the individual and the platform.

Riders earn €3.38 per delivery, €0.40 more if they use a motorcycle. Members of “Riders por derechos” (‘Riders for rights’) said similar complaints are before the authorities in Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Alicante, Sevilla and another town in Galicia. Across Spain, Deliveroo has about 1,000 riders.

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