Spain first European country with legal guidelines for meal couriers

by Lorraine Williamson
Couriers - meal deliveries

MADRID – The Council of Ministers of Spain approved the so-called “ley rider” last Tuesday. Spanish delivery services now have up to 90 days to provide the couriers who work for them with an employment contract and include them as employees. 

In September 2020, the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that couriers are bogus self-employed. In fact, the couriers are not self-employed, as they have always claimed. But should be regarded as employees and be on the company’s payroll. Following the Spanish Supreme Court ruling, delivery companies in Spain were awaiting legal frameworks and guidelines from both the Spanish and European Parliament. 

Spain first country in Europe with legislation for couriers 

Last Tuesday, these guidelines were approved by the Spanish government. Employment Minister Yolanda Díaz is extremely proud that Spain is the first European country to regulate labour relations between delivery company and courier. Furthermore, trade unions and employee organisations also agree with these guidelines. And as such, they should provide clarity for tens of thousands of couriers who work for these companies in Spain. 

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Approved guidelines for couriers

The approved guidelines come into effect immediately. And companies using these delivery drivers now have 90 days to finalise the employment contract between the company and the respective couriers. This new legislation will apply to 18,000 to 30,000 couriers currently operating in Spain. 

Mixed reactions in Spain

The reactions from various delivery platforms have been mixed. For example, Deliveroo, Glovo, Stuart and Uber Eats believe that this law limits the development of the sector. On the other hand, Just Eat welcomes the advent of these legal guidelines as it protects the rights of the couriers. Additionally, the law ensures all businesses in this sector can develop under the same guidelines. 

Europe wants to follow Spain 

Furthermore, there is a worldwide discussion about the unclear employment relationship between these types of companies and couriers. Currently there are numerous lawsuits against delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats because of the unclear relationships. Therefore, the European Commission has set a public consultation period to examine the possibilities of introducing directives for the entire European Union. 


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