Sat, Nov 09, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Debate over food courier employment status continues

Staff writer, with CNA

Two scooters with Foodpanda and Uber Eats delivery boxes are pictured in Taipei on Oct. 13.

Photo: Chen Ping-hung, Taipei Times

Less than half of food delivery services in Taiwan expressed support for the government’s recent decision that couriers working food delivery companies are formal employees, a local job bank said on Thursday.

The survey, which collected online responses from 184 former or active food couriers, showed that 45 percent supported the Ministry of Labor’s announcement last month that five local food delivery companies are formal employers, 104 Job Bank representative Chung Wen-hsiung (鍾文雄) said.

Only 28 percent of respondents said that they preferred to work as a contractor, while 14 percent said they do not understand the difference between contract work and formal employment, Chung said.

Those in favor of formal employment with the companies said they support it because they would receive more benefits, Chung said.

According to regulations, labor insurance is mandatory for employees of companies with more than five workers, and covers injuries on the job as well as providing death benefits and retirement payments.

The survey was conducted after the ministry on Oct. 30 said that food couriers at Foodpanda, Uber Eats, Lalamove, Cutaway and Quick Pick are formal employees and not contractors.

The ministry said it would publish documents next week detailing its determination after consulting with academics.

The issue made headlines after two food couriers died in separate road crashes last month.

However, the ministry’s determination drew criticism from The Taiwan Sharing Economy Association, whose members include companies such as Uber, Uber Eats and Foodpanda.

The association said in a statement that the ministry should respect the kind of work food couriers do and not regulate new businesses with outdated laws.

The association called on the ministry to develop regulations that are consistent with the needs of a digital economy.

The 104 Job Bank survey found the median monthly earnings for full-time food couriers was NT$45,000 and the median monthly earnings for part-time couriers was NT$7,500, Chung said.

Although the monthly pay is relatively high, full-time food couriers work 10.2 hours per day on average, or a 44.5 hour workweek, Chung said.

Ministry data showed that the average workweek last year was 42.2 hours.

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