The Netherlands: Deliveroo loses Appeal – the Company’s Delivery Workers are Employees (not freelancers)!
The Court of Appeals in Amsterdam issued a long-awaited ruling: the delivery workers of Deliveroo are employees and work on the basis of an employment contract, instead of on the basis of a contract of services. With an employment contract, the delivery workers are, for example, entitled to continued payments of their salary/wage in the event of illness.
The Court of Appeals confirmed that the core elements of an employment contract are met: performance of work, pay and a relationship of authority. In assessing the elements, all circumstances of the case are relevant. The intention of the parties does not play a role in the question of whether the contract should be regarded as an employment contract.
Performance of work
That the delivery drivers perform work was not in dispute. However, there was discussion about the freedom that delivery drivers have to accept or not accept an assignment. For example, delivery drivers can decide for themselves when they will work or whether or not they accept the assignment. They can also be replaced by someone else and delivery drivers are free to work for a competing company. However, these freedoms do not lead to the conclusion that there is no employment contract.
The Court of Appeals considered that Deliveroo pays its delivery drivers for the work they perform. This means that the ‘pay’ requirement has been met. In addition, the Court of Appeals included in its assessment that Deliveroo always determines the amount of the wages – a fixed amount per order – unilaterally. Moreover, Deliveroo always pays out biweekly, which is similar to an employment contract.
Relationship of authority
The Court of Appeals considered that for the activities, few instructions need to be given. In addition, the content of the contracts, the way in which the work is organised and the payment model are (always) unilaterally changed by Deliveroo. Also, a GPS system continuously tracks the location of the delivery person, once logged in. This is a far-reaching control possibility, which can be considered a form of authority. The circumstance that the deliverers can determine their own route is disregarded by the Court of Appeals. The delivery drivers have an average delivery time of thirty minutes per order, so they can only determine their own route to a limited extent. It is also interesting that the Court of Appeals took into account that the work of the delivery staff is part of Deliveroo’s core business. According to the Court, this indicates the presence of a relationship of authority.
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