Unpredictable and Non-transparent Working Conditions? Riders in the Food-delivery Sector in Six EU Countries

Laura Scheele, Zhen Jie Im, Janine Leschke

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This report focuses on the social rights of the most flexible non-standard workers. It does so with reference to the stipulations in the new EU Directive 2019/1152 on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions (TPWC). The Directive – which at the time of writing is not yet fully implemented in all countries – aims to ensure that workers receive information about their working conditions in writing at an early stage and benefit from minimum rights to prevent precariousness. We focus, in particular, on one of the most flexible group of non-standard workers – platform-based food delivery workers (riders). Platform work was one of the explicit targets of the Directive. While the Directive will not apply to genuinely self-employed workers, it is applicable to those in bogus self-employment – therefore including riders who hold no employee status despite the platform’s employee-like control over them It is an interesting case to scrutinise the potential benefits and limits of the TPWC Directive as working hours are highly variable and platform work is carried out on the basis of a variety of employment statuses (including solo self-employment) and contract types (employment by third-party agencies, civil law contracts, mini-jobs etc.).

This report draws on country case studies and uses variation across sectors. The cases – Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Spain – are justified by their coverage of a range of industrial relations models and welfare regimes; features that are likely to impact the situation of the sector in the specific countries. These differences mean that the Directive may have differential impact on riders’ working conditions in the near future once fully implemented. To account for firm-level variation in the organization of food delivery platforms, we identified the two companies with the highest market share at the time of writing for each of our country cases (Just Eat and Wolt for Denmark, Lieferando and Gorillas for Germany, Just Eat and Glovo for Spain, Uber Eats and Deliveroo for France, Pyszne.pl (Just Eat) and Uber Eats for Poland and Thuisbezorgd.nl (Just Eat) and Uber Eats for the Netherlands).

The country case studies are based on desk research which included information provided to riders during the application process and where possible scrutiny of contracts, service agreements, collective agreements and relevant legislation. The information provided during application formed an essential aspect for our analysis as information discrepancies between platforms’ online FAQs, job advertisements and what is then contractually agreed upon illustrates the state of predictability and transparency of working conditions well. For some countries expert interviews with trade union representatives have been conducted to verify or expand information. Analytically, the paper draws on the power resource framework of Vandenbroucke et al (2021) which distinguishes between normative, instrumental and enforcement resources. This allows us to systematically analyse the situation of riders across countries and platforms in relation to the Directive’s aims.

Our findings show that riders often have poor work-related rights (normative resources) and inadequate information about these rights (instrumental resources) – and these problems are particularly salient for those in solo self-employment. The TPWC Directive might thus eventually – when fully implemented - improve parts of the working conditions on food delivery platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBrussels
Number of pages95
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
SeriesEuSocialCit Working Paper
SeriesThe Future of European Social Citizenship

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