In Spain, the labor inspectorate of Valencia has ruled that bicycle messengers (“riders”) working for digital platforms—in this case, Deliveroo—are not self-employed, but rather employees: “The qualification of ‘independent’ does not properly define their activities. The relationship at the level of civil law hides what is in reality a relationship of employment.”
This is the textbook redefinition you’ll find within the so-called “gig economy”—the declassification of semi-subordinate (“insourcing”) work as self-employed freelance work. The difference between the two is clear: All taxes, social security contributions and insurance costs are paid by the “rider” and not by the company, which can therefore increase its profits. Accordingly, the Spanish labor inspectorate fined Deliveroo €160,814, representing unpaid contributions.
Deliveroo announced that it would appeal this decision: the “riders” are “service providers” and are not tied to their company in a relationship of employment. The company also claims to have made changes to the contracts with its “riders,” and that it no longer calls them “self-employed” but “economically dependent self-employed.”