Finnish Labour Council: Food couriers are employees, not entrepreneurs

Helsinki (03.11.2020 – Heikki Jokinen)

Food couriers are employees, not entrepreneurs, says Finland’s Labour Council. It released two statements on the issue in October. Service Union United PAM welcomes the statements.

The Council is an independent special authority under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. It issues opinions on labour legislation, but the statements are not legally binding. Three of the members represent wage and salary earners, three the employers and three are independent experts.

The Regional State Administrative Agency requested opinions from the Labour Council regarding the application of the Working Hours Act to food couriers of two companies. The key issue was whether a food courier is to be considered an employee or an entrepreneur.

The Labour Council decided they should be viewed as employees by 6 votes to 3. Those who voted against represent the employers’ organisations.

“Although the opinions of the Labour Council are non-binding, they nevertheless offer important guidelines. The status of thousands of people who work in the platform economy in Finland will be affected by the Council’s opinion. I assume that companies will now carry out this kind of assessment,” Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen says.

Minister Haatainen says that the Labour Council’s opinion will be considered during the preparation when the Government examines the need for legislative changes from the perspective of the transformation of work.

Annika Rönni-Sällinen, President of the Service Union United PAM is pleased about the decision and sees it as highly significant.

“The Labour Council’s decision means that in the future food couriers can obtain the same rights as other employees. This means that for as far as couriers are concerned employers must comply with the Working Hours Act and occupational safety rules, among other things”, says Rönni-Sällinen.

She now expects that the food delivery companies will accept the decision and make employment contracts with their couriers. The biggest companies in this sector in Finland are Foodora and Wolt.

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