Deliveroo has been found guilty of abusing the freelance status of it’s cycle riders in France, with two former managers being given suspended one-year prison sentences and fined 30,000 euros each. The company was fined the maximum penalty of 375,000 euros and will have to publish the court decision on Deliveroo’s French home page for one month.
Deliveroo was founded in 2013 and is a gig economy business which connects it’s food delivery couriers to work via their online app. Such gig and platform economy businesses operate by engaging their workers on a self-employed basis, and have the freedom to accept or reject work offered via the app.
The investigation covered a period from 2015 to 2017 and showed that Deliveroo had imposed an almost permanent surveillance and control over riders’ work while they were connected on the app.
That included allocating riders long time slots to be sure Deliveroo had as many people on hand as possible during the weekend, and telling drivers who refused that they would not be allowed to work for the platform the following weeks, for instance.
Even though the riders were freelance, the court also found that Deliveroo unilaterally changed the criteria under which pay increases were defined or the minimum time needed to be online to qualify as a rider.
“This set of elements characterises a situation of almost permanent legal subordination,” judge Sylvie Daunis said, referring to a key element that defines the employee status in France.
Deliveroo said in a statement that it “categorically contests” the French court’s ruling.
“The judgement goes against previous decisions in civil courts covering the same historic period, which have repeatedly found riders to be self-employed,” a spokesperson said.
“While this case does not concern today’s operating model, we strongly disagree with this judgement and the basis on which it has been made, and we will appeal.”