Home Business Advice to the Supreme Court: Deliveroo deliverer is an employee

Advice to the Supreme Court: Deliveroo deliverer is an employee


The Deliveroo deliverers who come to bring you a pizza or Thai curry by bike are not self-employed but work on the basis of an employment contract. After the District Court and the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam, the Advocate General has now come to this conclusion.

This is usually adopted by the Supreme Court.

The ruling is a gain for trade union FNV, which took the British meal deliverer to court. The union believes that the deliverers are simply employees, and are therefore entitled to things such as continued payment of wages in the event of illness and protection against dismissal.

They then fall under the Collective Labor Agreement for Professional Goods, which also includes drivers, parcel deliverers and courier services. Deliveroo would then also have to pay social and pension contributions.

Call contract

Deliveroo started in the Netherlands in 2015 and initially hired deliverers. They received an on-call contract for a maximum of 23 months and then had to work at least one evening shift and one weekend shift.

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In 2018, the company changed its business model: the deliverers only received a contract agreement. They had to register with the Chamber of Commerce and also be able to submit a VAT number. ‘Sham self-employment’, was the opinion of the FNV trade union, which immediately summoned the delivery service. The parties have now reached the highest court.

Fill in yourself

The lawsuits mainly concern the question to what extent the meal deliverers have the freedom to carry out the work as they see fit. After all, if they were self-employed, they would have that freedom. But they cannot negotiate their rates, for example. They are determined by an algorithm. They can only decide whether or not to accept a particular service or delivery.

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The deliverers also have to wear clothes from Deliveroo during their shifts and they are tracked by the company with GPS. That looks like a relationship of authority, which makes the deliverers employees. The Supreme Court ruled that the fact that the deliverers can choose their services themselves, are also allowed to work for other clients and are also allowed to be replaced by someone else does not mean that they are self-employed.

The ruling may also have consequences for other companies that work on a platform basis, such as taxi service Uber and cleaning service Helpling.

An earlier version of this story stated that the Supreme Court had ruled. This has been corrected in an opinion of the Advocate General.

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