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Labour prosecutor's office appeals against court decision in Deliveroo case

Illustration picture shows equipment of a Deliveroo courier in Brussels, Friday 01 February 2019. (BELGA PHOTO PAUL-HENRI VERLOOY)
05:22 13/01/2022

The Brussels labour prosecutor's office announced on Wednesday that it has appealed against the labour court's judgment of 8 December in the Deliveroo case.

The court had ruled in favour of Deliveroo by establishing that there is no need to reclassify the relationship between independent delivery drivers and the meal delivery platform as an employment contract. Couriers could therefore continue to be classified as freelance.

"The court has concluded that Deliveroo couriers are self-employed,” a spokesperson for Deliveroo Belgium said in December. “This is an important recognition that is in line with the legal interpretation we have always put forward, regarding how couriers want to work with Deliveroo.”

In 2018, the labour prosecutor's office ordered an inquiry into the real status of couriers working for the Deliveroo platform. After two years, and interviews with 115 couriers, the prosecutor considered that the employment relationship should be reclassified and considered an employer-employee relationship.

The Belgian state then intervened voluntarily in the case, to claim the unpaid social contributions. Twenty-seven couriers were also parties to the dispute and demanded recognition of the status of employee as well as the declaration to the Belgian social security office (NSSO) of their benefits and salary arrears since 2018.

In 2017, Deliveroo, two years after it had been established in Belgium, had proposed to its some 2,000 couriers to become either "service providers in the context of the collaborative economy", a special status with an advantageous tax regime below a certain income ceiling, or self-employed. It had thus decided to no longer allow couriers to conclude contracts with it via Smart, a social enterprise that allows them to acquire an employee status during defined periods of work.

Written by Nick Amies