Delivery riders for apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo will be granted the same rights as employees in Spain, including the right to collectively bargain, according to an announcement from the Spanish government on Thursday. Spain will become the first country in the world to formally give gig economy delivery drivers rights similar to employees.
Gig economy riders will also get access to information about the algorithms used to dispatch deliveries, giving workers a peek under the hood—a dramatic change that will likely send shockwaves throughout the industry.
“It will make it possible to avoid, as is currently the case, algorithmic punishments for workers who work in certain time slots, penalties for performance that can be biased, or even the simple fact of promoting or going on strike,” government minister for labor Yolanda Diaz said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Barcelona-based delivery app Glovo told the Financial Times that the Spanish government’s plan was “rather radical” and invoked the hard work carried out during the pandemic to insist these changes will create “additional difficulties.”
The socialist Spanish government’s cabinet still needs to finalize the proposal, after which gig economy companies will have three months to implement the new rules, according to Reuters.
Spain may be the first country to start rolling out strong protections for gig economy workers but other European countries are expected to follow suit soon. The UK Supreme Court ruled just last month that Uber drivers are entitled to many of the same protections as proper employees, including paid vacation and the minimum wage. Uber disputes the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law, hilariously enough, and told Gizmodo that it doesn’t believe the scope of the UK ruling will be broad.
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Spain’s plans overnight, but as the Financial Times notes, Uber insists that its riders don’t actually want the same rights as employees.
Update, 7:40 a.m. ET: Uber sent the following statement:
Over the past few weeks, thousands of couriers across the country have come together to stand against this proposed regulation that would deprive them from the independence they value most. At Uber, we are fully committed to raising the standard of work and giving independent workers more benefits while preserving flexibility and control. We want to work with all relevant parties across Spain to improve independent work, instead of eliminating it.