Finnish-based food delivery service Wolt has said that wages and working conditions for couriers will worsen if they were to become employees of the company, rather than stay as freelance entrepreneurs.
The company was responding to a statement by Finland's Labour Council on Thursday, in which it said that it regards food couriers as employees, not entrepreneurs.
The council operates under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and although the statement is not legally binding, it is of significant importance.
Wolt co-founder Juhani Mykkänen told Yle that changing the estimated 4,000 freelance 'partners to employee contracts would create a "really complicated situation".
"There are pros and cons here and we have to take many different things into account," Mykkänen said, adding that an employee's hourly wage would be significantly smaller than the current entrepreneur wage.
Working conditions would also change, Mykkänen said, such as the freelancer’s freedom to choose their own working hours.
"The Regional State Administrative Agency will be in contact with us next and we will consider together what would be the best and the most responsible way forward," Mykkänen said.
Couriers are "primarily employees"
Food couriers have previously worked as entrepreneurs in Finland, which means they don't qualify for sick leave or other benefits granted to employees.
The Labour Council found that the work carried out by couriers meets the requirements of an employer-employee relationship as defined by Finnish legislation.
"They are primarily employees," Professor of Labour Law at the University of Turku Seppo Koskinen told Yle. "Our current labour legislation is structured in such a way that the people who perform the work are either entrepreneurs or employees. Labour law has been careful not to create any intermediate group."
Koskinen added that the EU could, in theory, come up with a directive that would provide a common approach and set of guidelines for companies that operate in many different countries.
"It would be good if the same principles could be followed worldwide," Koskinen said.