The National Social Security Office (NSSO) announced its civil suit after an intensive two-year investigation.
The global meal delivery service will be tried in front of the labor tribunal in January 2020 for alleged labor law violations.
In 2016, Deliveroo strongly encouraged its 2,000 couriers to forfeit their Smart contracts and officially be employed as ‘service providers in the collaborative economy’. By doing so, the majority of couriers lost their employment perks.
“Our couriers have the freedom to work when and where they wish. They have total control over their work schedule”, commented a spokesperson for Deliveroo. “There is no other employment scheme which allows for this level of freedom. Any decision which classes our couriers as employees would deny them the flexibility they appreciate so much. We urge future governments to put in place a legal framework wherein couriers can benefit from the flexibility of a independent service provider while enjoying a higher degree of job security. This is exactly what Deliveroo is looking to provide.”
Deliveroo was able to implement this change of regime following the De Croo Act of 2016 which aimed to provide a supportive tax system for income generated by the digital economy. Platforms like Airbnb, Uber and Menu Next Door are other examples of marketplaces where consumers can get in touch with each other to provide goods and services. The De Croo Act exempted such platforms from social security contributions and VAT obligations.
Critics of the Act raised issues with the lack of clarity in the legal text, namely regarding the distinction of individuals providing services within their professional activity. These questions were only partially answered by the ministers responsible before the adoption of the Act by the Federal Parliament. The outcome of this process will play no small part in determining the future direction of the digital economy in Belgium.