Deliveroo eyes Spain exit amid legal changes for its workers

MADRID (AP) — Food delivery platform Deliveroo said it is considering shuttering its operations in Spain, ahead of a deadline to comply with a new law that requires it to hire workers who are freelancing for the company.

Deliveroo’s announcement on Friday came as the mid-August deadline looms for delivery platforms to hire couriers who are currently freelancing for them. The change is required by legislation passed in May. Deliveroo currently uses around 2,500 delivery workers in Spain.

The changes in Spain come as other countries in Europe and elsewhere are deciding on a labour model for the so-called gig economy, which is often blamed for precarious jobs and low salaries.

That’s because, until now, gig and other contractor workers had to pay social security fees from their own pockets if they wanted to receive benefits, including unemployment subsidies and a public pension.

Some freelancers have protested against the changes, saying they prefer flexible work and don’t want to be hired as staff.

App-based food delivery businesses say the new law threatens a EUR700-million industry in Spain.

Deliveroo said in a statement filed to the London Stock Exchange, where it is listed, that “achieving and sustaining a top-tier market position in Spain would require a disproportionate level of investment with highly uncertain long-term potential returns”.

A Deliveroo food delivery rider waits for orders outside a restaurant in Madrid, Spain. PHOTO: AP