Spanish food delivery riders want right to be self-employed

MADRID (AP) — Food delivery workers protested across Spain on Wednesday, saying they would support a planned new law regulating their sector only if it allows them to remain self-employed.

More than 2,000 delivery riders gathered to protest in at least 10 Spanish cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, private news agency Europa Press reported.

The proposed legal changes are the latest affecting companies and workers in the gig economy. Last month, Britain’s top court ruled that Uber drivers should be classed as “workers” and not self-employed, in what was seen as a major setback for the ride-hailing giant.

Digital platforms offering food deliveries, such as Deliveroo, Uber and Glovo, have boomed in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic as people spend more time staying at home.

The Spanish government initially consulted groups representing the workers as it drew up the new law, known as “ley rider.” But those groups now complain they are being ignored and that the legislation is overdue.

The secretary of state for employment, Joaquín Pérez Rey, said Tuesday the government is putting the finishing touches to the law, which he called “an extremely complex matter,” and said its publication is “imminent.”

Spanish media reports say the government may give companies a three-month grace period to register their workers as employees.

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