Finland's Labour Council says that it regards food couriers as employees, not entrepreneurs.
The council, which operates under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, released a statement on Thursday afternoon supporting the legal position of food couriers as employees rather than freelancers..
“Although the opinions of the labour council are non-binding, they nevertheless offer important guidelines. The positions of thousands of people working in the platform economy in Finland are affected by the council's position," said Minister of Labour Tuula Haatainen in the press release.
Tuomas Tammisto, speaking on behalf of the Justice4Couriers campaign, told Yle that the news came as an unexpected and positive surprise, though the activist group knew the issue was on the ministry's agenda.
“While our understanding is that this is not a binding document, it is an important guideline from the relevant ministry,” said Tammisto.
“We agree with the labour council that the work food couriers carry out for companies qualifies as their being employees rather than freelancers,” he said.
The All Points North podcast spoke to Tammisto earlier this year about the dilemmas faced by couriers during the pandemic. You can listen to the full podcast via this embedded player, Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your normal podcast player using the RSS feed.
Story continues after audio.
Tammisto's grassroots movement Justice4Couriers has been advocating for improved terms and conditions of work for couriers. As freelancers, couriers don't qualify for sick leave or other benefits granted to employees.
"Couriers have very much been at the mercy of companies," said Tammisto.
According to Tammisto, this proposed shift from freelancer to employee doesn’t exclude flexibility.
"As a former food courier I fully recognise that there are some couriers who also want to work as entrepreneurs and freelancers and this doesn’t exclude them from doing so,” he said.
Minister of Labour Haatainen went onto say that the Finnish government is committed to identifying any need for legislative changes around the issue. The so-called platform economy is at the heart of this, and the council’s recommendations will be considered in preparations for such legislative changes.
The labour council issues opinions on the application and interpretation of laws regarding working time, annual leave, occupational safety and the protection of workers.