Spain regulates gig economy with new food delivery law

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OVIEDO, Spain

Companies in Spain relying on freelancers to deliver food have three months to hire their couriers as regular employees, according to a pioneering law passed in Spain on Tuesday.

“No other country in the world has dared to pass a law like this. The world is looking at Spain,” said Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz.

Companies like Uber Eats and Spanish startups Deliveroo and Glovo will now have to hire an estimated 17,000 freelancers who power their businesses.

In Spain, freelance workers not only lack some of the benefits that come with long-term job contracts, but they also pay the government an average monthly fee of around €280 ($340).

The country has been cracking down on employers who hire so-called freelancers to get around paying their social security or providing benefits like holidays or maternity leave.

“A young person on a bike with an app isn’t an entrepreneur. That’s what the courts have decided,” said Diaz.

But not all the workers are happy.

Thousands took to the streets on Tuesday to protest the new law. Some fear that the law could destroy their jobs altogether, while others say they prefer the flexibility that comes with being freelancers.

Under the new law, businesses will also be forced to share certain rules of their algorithms with workers.

“This measure will not only affect the development of Spain’s digital economy poorly but is a violation of the basic principles of business and industrial freedom,” read a statement issued by the APS association, which counts Uber Eats and Deliveroo among its members.

Just Eat, on the other hand, applauded the law, saying that it “situates Spain as a European reference point” in terms of “developing a sustainable digital economy.”

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