Spain – The Supreme Court concludes that the “riders” are false self-employed

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A recent Judgment of the Social Chamber (4th) of the Supreme Court has concluded that those commonly known as “riders” are false self-employed, that is, they are linked to the distribution platforms through a labour relationship.

This ruling took place on the occasion of the dispute between the company “Glovo” and one of its “riders”, who filed an appeal before the Supreme Court after obtaining a dismissal ruling from the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid.

The High Court bases its decision, particularly, on the concurrence of dependency and alienation of the “riders”, characteristic notes of the existence of an employment relationship. This is deduced from the existence of the following indications:

  • “Glovo” geolocates the “riders” by GPS while they carry out their activity, recording the kilometres they travel, which implies business control over the performance of the service provided.
  • “Glovo” establishes the conditions under which the service must be provided and gives instructions to the “riders”, who limit themselves to receiving orders.
  • “Glovo” provides the “riders” with a credit card to buy the products of the final consumer, and provides them, if they need it, with a payment in advance of part of their remuneration, for them to be able to start their activity.
  • “Glovo” exclusively makes all commercial decisions: it sets the price of the services provided, the form of payment and the remuneration of the “riders”.
  • Furthermore, it is “Glovo”, and not the final clients of the platform, who pay the “riders”, and the company is also in charge of preparing each of the invoices.
  • Although the “riders” use their own mobile phone and motorcycle, the truth is that the essential means of production of the activity are not the mobile phone and the motorcycle, but the digital platform of “Glovo”, which reflects that the “riders” are not the owners of the essential means of production.
  • “Glovo” has the power to sanction its “riders” for different behaviours, which constitutes a manifestation of the managerial power of the employer.

Thus, the Supreme Court concludes that “Glovo” is not limited to being a mere intermediary between “riders” (distributors) and businesses, but that it is a true company that provides delivery services, which sets the “riders” the essential conditions for the provision of the service, so that these remain incardinated in the organizational sphere of the employer, without having an autonomous business organization.

It should be borne in mind that this new pronouncement has important consequences, since the existence of a relationship of an employment nature between the “riders” and the digital distribution platforms such as “Glovo”, “Deliveroo” or “Just Eat”, obliges these companies to pay the contributions to the Social Security of the “riders”, corresponding to the last 4 years, plus a 20% surcharge and the corresponding financial penalty.

This criterion of the Supreme Court will undoubtedly affect other equivalent economic activities.

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Jose Luis Herrero
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