The Supreme Court delivers: Deliveroo riders are employees under Dutch law.
The Dutch Supreme Court has made a landmark ruling in employment law, declaring that the delivery riders working for platform Deliveroo in the Netherlands were employed under an employment contract as defined by article 7:610 of the Dutch Civil Code. This means these delivery riders are entitled to all the legal protections of such a contract, including job security, sick pay, holiday pay, and holiday entitlement. The Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal in 2021. According to the Supreme Court, the Amsterdam court was correct in finding that the three conditions for an employment contract had been met: the workers provided labor, the employer paid for the labor, and the workers were subject to the employer’s authority.
The Supreme Court also clarified that the fact that the delivery riders had the freedom to log in and out of the app and could be replaced did not preclude the existence of an employment contract. Additionally, the Supreme Court emphasized that the authority criterion is not solely concerned with whether the employer exercises control over the worker but also whether the work performed is “organically embedded” in the employer’s organization and is part of the employer’s regular business operations.
The ruling is generally a win for the Deliveroo delivery riders and the “gig economy” workers. It means these riders have the same rights as employees of a traditional employer, and the ruling is expected to set a legal precedent for similar cases in the Netherlands. The Supreme Court’s ruling has significant implications for delivery riders working for platforms such as Deliveroo, strengthening workers’ position in the gig economy. It represents an important step in protecting workers’ rights and promoting fair working conditions.
While I understand the reasoning behind the Dutch Supreme Court’s ruling that Deliveroo riders are employees, I must admit that I am not a 100% fan of the outcome. As someone closely following this case and the broader debate around gig economy workers’ rights, I expected this outcome. I wrote about this in a previous column. However, from an innovation perspective, I believe this ruling doesn’t match our times. The gig economy has transformed how we work, providing many people with much-needed flexibility and opportunities to earn extra income. Deliveroo is no longer offering its service in the Netherlands due to this ruling. Many drivers relying on Deliveroo for extra income are now out of work. While I support protecting workers’ rights, I hope policymakers will take a more nuanced approach to regulate the gig economy. We need to find a way to strike a balance between protecting workers and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.