Italy backs off 730-mn-euro fine for delivery outfits

Italian authorities announced Thursday they had reached a deal to improve the labour conditions of riders for food delivery platforms and backed off a threatened fine of 730 million euros ($825 million).

Prosecutors in Milan initially began looking at working conditions for delivery riders following a spate of road accidents, and the probe was eventually extended throughout the country.

In February prosecutors notified Foodinho-Glovo, Uber Eats Italy, Just Eat Italy and Deliveroo Italy that their riders cannot be considered as self-employed freelancers and must be employees who receive wages.

Based upon 60,000 riders who worked for the delivery platforms between 2017 and 2020, prosecutors threatened the firms with fines of 733 million euros.

Under the deal reached with the delivery platforms, the current 20,000 riders will have improved working conditions including receiving safety training and equipment, as well as medical exams.

The fines were reduced to 15,700 euros for each of the four platforms, but they will need to spend millions — an estimated 400 to 500 euros for each rider — to comply with the agreement.

The announcement makes no mention of the legal status of the riders, whether they are self-employed or employees. However, several lawsuits brought by labour unions on the issue are before the courts.

Earlier this year, Spain became the first EU member to give food delivery riders labour rights. A Supreme Court decision in Britain in February gave gig workers there labour rights.