The Work inspection tightens the fence against the use of fake freelancers on digital delivery platforms. Y Uber Eats it has not been alien to the actions of the ‘labor police’. The multinational owes Social Security a total of 817.439 euros for operating with 1,427 delivery men in a fraudulent situation in two cities in Spain, according to the information that EL PERIÓDICO has had access to and that has been confirmed by the company itself. The actions took place in 2019 in the cities of Barcelona and Madrid, following complaints from affected unions and workers, and the company has filed an appeal against them in court. The actions of the Inspection arrive at the gates of a new labor legislation on platform work that is finalized by the Ministry of Labor with employers and unions.
Uber Eats, on which so far no inspections had transpired, thus joins companies in the sector such as Glovo, Deliveroo O Amazon that together they add up to more than 23 million euros owed to the public treasury for employing more than 17,500 false self-employed workers in the main cities throughout Spain; according to data compiled by EL PERIÓDICO. The ‘labor police’ consider that the ‘riders’ of Uber Eats should be salaried, so the company should assume a higher social cost and for this reason it demands late contributions. These total, at the moment, 817,439 euros and are pending judicial ratification.
At the discretion of the judges
Uber Eats sources consulted reaffirm confidence in their business model and they consider that their distributors do not operate as false freelancers. “We collaborate with the labor inspectorate to clarify all aspects of our model in Spain. Uber Eats does not establish work shifts or minimum connection hours, nor does it require exclusivity of any kind. Delivery drivers work where and when they want, and to leave to do so, they just have to turn off their application, “says a company spokesperson. This last point, that of the absence of pre-booking of some time slots (which the company can deny) is the main difference compared to Glovo or Deliveroo.
The UberEats labor model has its peculiarities and the judges must ratify the decision of the Labor inspectors, who have the presumption of veracity. However, in all the inspections carried out to date on the different platforms and in much of the available jurisprudence, the weight of the algorithm in the allocation of orders and in the organization of work is a central element to argue the employment status of the relationship . That is, the dealer does not have any influence or decision-making power over the algorithm and this vetoes its autonomy, according to judges and inspectors.
Labor model in question
The multinational based in San Francisco began operating the ‘delivery’ in Spain in Barcelona. It started, fleetingly, in 2015; It was not until 2017 when it opened its distribution activity in a stable way; first in Madrid and then in other big cities. UberEats occupies a minority market share in Spain in the business of food delivery at home, compared to the higher turnover of Glovo and, to a lesser extent, Deliveroo, according to the latest data from the CNMC of 2018. While Glovo moves between 30 and 40% of orders, Deliveroo and Uber Eats each distribute about 10%.
The market leader is Just Eat, with another type of work model. The company founded in 2001 in Denmark has so far operated as an intermediary between restaurants and subcontracted companies that have their delivery men as employees. Just Eat offers delivery services to restaurants, which it achieves by hiring a service company. This week Just Eat announced that it would start supplying with directly hired deliverymen, but it has not transcended either the fleet that it will need, or the working conditions of the employees.
Just Eat y Glovo each move 40% of the orders, compared to 10% each of Deliveroo O UberEats
The lower number of UberEats drivers explains, in part, why the amounts required by Social Security are substantially lower. And despite the fact that its work model maintains some differences with respect to its competitors, it is also immersed in legal proceedings with Social Security. It will not be until these actions are raised to the Supreme Court (or the company stops appealing) when the sentence can be final and the company must pay the amounts, if the ruling is unfavorable.
This is what has happened with fines of a greater nature, such as the 16.2 million that Glovo accumulates or the 6.15 million of Amazon. These are still in minor instances and companies are not, at the moment, in the obligation to pay them. And, consequently, they can continue to operate under the same work model. In the case of Deliveroo, the firm of British origin has, at least, two closed inspections already in Barcelona (with 741 ‘riders’) and in Madrid (532 ‘riders’) and which are currently under judicial review. Amounts have not transpired on them, which, by proportion, would be millionaires.
Although no inspection action has yet reached the Supreme Court, the case of a dealer from the Glovo company has. The magistrates of the high court ruled that the ‘rider’ operated as a false autonomous, a decision that sets a precedent for the rest of the instances; although not yet jurisprudence. Currently, the Ministry of Labor is negotiating with employers and unions how to ‘dump’ the reflections of that sentence in a new law on work on platforms. This, among other things, aims to speed up the judicial processes in the event that future workers of a platform company, dedicate themselves to the distribution or other task, report an alleged irregularity and consider that they should be salaried, not self-employed.