On 31 May 2018, at the City Hall of Bologna (the fourth most populous city in northern Italy), the city’s mayor, representatives of Italy’s three main workers unions (CGIL, CISL and UIL), and two food delivery companies active in Bologna (Sgnam and Mymenu) met and signed the “Paper of fundamental rights of the digital worker in the urban environment.” (the Riders’ Statute). The Riders’ Statute aims to grant riders who work for food delivery companies (Riders) a set of minimum standards of protection. Absent from this important meeting (and list of signatories) were the largest food delivery companies in Italy, Deliveroo, Foodora and Glovo. The Riders’ Statute will not therefore apply to these companies, or indeed to any food delivery companies operating outside Bologna but, nevertheless, given the rise of the food delivery business in Italy and the increase in the numbers of Riders in cities across Italy, it is worthwhile taking a closer look at what the Riders’ Statute provides.
First, the Riders’ Statute does not take a clear position on the central question of whether food company delivery riders are “subordinate workers” or “autonomous workers” in the Italian regime, a question also raised by the Labor Court of Turin in a recent decision [See link]. It does however introduce certain clear, specific and fundamental rights for Riders (some of which are already provided by statutory laws). These include:
- Riders have the right to be informed about the way their reputational rating is determined.
- Riders have the right to receive certificates of professional experience if they decide to change company.
- Riders must be insured against risks and civil liabilities.
- Riders have the right to personal data protection.
The Riders’ Statute also introduces other rights which may be viewed as more controversial than the basic ones listed above, for instance:
- Riders have the right to a minimum hourly wage, calculated in accordance with the relevant National Collective Agreement for employees carrying out similar tasks. Considering that the National Collective Agreement for employees in the logistic and transportation sector provides a minimum hourly wage of € 8,50/ hour (a much higher rate than Riders typically receive currently), this could have a major impact on the profitability of food delivery businesses in Italy.
- Riders have the right to wage increases if they are required to work on public holidays or during the night. This clause in particular is incompatible with the ‘at will’ nature of the work of Riders and Riders’ right to refuse calls.
- Riders have the right to refuse to work in bad weather. Like the bullet point above, this clause is incompatible with the nature of the Riders’ work.
- Riders have the right to strike. This is a right granted by the Italian Constitution, but only if a subordinate employment is in place, which is not the case with Riders (at least until now).
- Riders can be rightfully dismissed from employment only in the event of gross misconduct or serious breach of contract. As with the bullet above, this is another typical feature of treatment offered to subordinate workers only.
Our view is that the signing of the Riders’ Statute is in fact an important development in the general discussion and debate regarding the reasonable and proper treatment of Riders, an increasingly important type of worker in the Gig economy. It contains some clear and basic protections for Riders, but it seems to go too far in its attempt to bring Riders into the category of subordinate workers, introducing some rights that are rigid and incompatible with the flexible nature of the work of Riders.
We consider that national statutory legislation on the treatment of Riders and other similar workers in the Gig economy would be beneficial to all interested parties. Local agreements like the Bologna Riders’ Statute are helpful in that they force discussion and debate but can be harmful, especially if other cities pass similar Riders Statutes. There is in fact a great need for clarity and uniformity of rights and regulations relating to Riders across the entire Italian territory, in cities large and small. The uncertainty that currently prevails is not good for Riders, for employers or, more generally, for the customers of food delivery companies.