Drivers working for Deliveroo are employees, not freelancers, Dutch Supreme Court reigns on Friday in what may be a precedent for the country platform economy.
The case was brought to court by union FNV, which has been in litigation with Deliveroo since 2018. The dispute began when the British company announced it was terminating employment contracts for its delivery drivers, instead offering them the option of continuing as freelancers. FNV immediately filed a lawsuit, arguing that drivers deserve the legal protection afforded to permanent employees.
FNV Vice-Chairman Zakaria Boufangacha said that as freelancers, Deliveroo employees have virtually no say in wage rates and working conditions. “As a result, they have to pay and organize their own insurance, days off and pensions. And they don’t do it because the pay is way too low,” he said.
In 2019 the Court of Amsterdam supports the attitude of the union, verdict that delivery people were pseudo-freelancers because there was an established one Relationship of authority between Deliveroo and its drivers. The company, the judges argued, could monitor what employees were doing, workers weren’t entirely free to work when they wanted, and they had no say in drafting their contracts like freelancers would. The Supreme Court has now upheld these verdicts, ending years of dispute.
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Even if Deliveroo Left on the Dutch market last year, the ruling could have a major impact on companies that operate in a similar way in the Netherlands, regardless of their sector, predicts FNV union leader Anja Dijkman.
“This Supreme Court ruling affects hundreds of thousands of self-employed people,” she said called. Dijkman says she’s worried about the position of freelancers (those who work for online platforms like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb) in the platform economy for years.
The ruling, she said, will make it harder for companies like Deliveroo to claim their employees are actually freelancers just because it’s a cheaper way to run a business. “It will be case law for others to refer to,” she added.
There are currently around 1.2 million self-employed in the Netherlands and this number is growing every day. For years the government has been working on new rules to clearly distinguish an employee from a self-employed person, but little concrete progress has been made so far. unions and politicians affected about this legal sizey range and they say that a clear definition is needed.
Margreet Drijvers, Head of the Platform for Independent Entrepreneurs (PZO) interest group, believes that Deliveroo’s judgment does not provide that clarity. “The Supreme Court basically left everything as it was – it didn’t introduce any new criteria to define exactly what exactly a self-employed person is or isn’t,” she said.
Not all deliverers are satisfied with the verdict either. “I lost my job because of FNV,” said former Deliveroo delivery driver Eddy. As a freelancer, he can choose which trips he takes and how many hours he does, he said. Now he works for Uber Eats.
In potentially good news for drivers like Eddy, employment attorney Joyce Snijder also believes the Deliveroo ruling will do little influence in similar cases – such as those involving taxi service Uber and temp agency Temper – which are currently in court.
Whether or not the case sets a precedent, one thing is certain: as more workers enter the platform economy, the need for legal clarity for the self-employed becomes more pressing.
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