Rideshare and Delivery Driver Rights Reversing In Europe: Is the US Next?


Rideshare and delivery drivers have been campaigning for their right to benefits and a minimum pay for years – and in some locations, they’ve won. Drivers in some parts of Europe currently enjoy employee status, which comes with benefits and a minimum wage guarantee. In the US, the city of Seattle followed suit and guaranteed drivers in the city a minimum wage.

But independent contractor rights could lose what foothold they’ve gained so far. In this post, we’ll report on some events in Europe that don’t bode too well for gig workers here in the US, if companies here follow suit. Here’s what we’ll discuss:

Gig worker rights reversals in Europe: What’s behind them?

Companies like Grubhub’s parent, Just Eat Takeaway, decided that they would use employees as couriers in certain countries and challenged other companies that used gig workers to do the same. They proudly offered, and gave, benefits to their delivery couriers that ensured they were fully covered. 

Gig workers, workers’ organizations, and unions pointed to this model and asked why that couldn’t happen in more companies. In California a protracted battle over this issue resulted in the gig companies putting forth Proposition 22, which gave some benefits to drivers, but defeated the state government’s attempt at pushing them to classify drivers as employees.

Now, according to this article from WIRED, the companies that were once generous with their drivers are reversing the moves. In France, Just Eat sent a July 18, 2022, email to its employees, announcing the company’s restructuring the status of couriers so that they would no longer be salaried delivery workers. The company cited pressure to turn a profit and noted that they were one of the few, if not the only, companies offering these benefits to their workers. They added that it was because regulators failed to make all driving and delivery companies classify workers as employees that they had to change their own way of paying their couriers. 

Some of these workers, at least those in the city of Paris, would remain classified as employees and would be paid by the hour. Many couriers in other locations would risk losing their jobs. The company will go back to paying couriers by the delivery, just as other companies do. 

Unions are looking at these events and questioning the future of gig worker rights. If Just Eat, which was so assertive about its move to make its couriers employees, could make this change, what might happen in other companies that have tried this model? Could Gorillas and Getir, two other European delivery platforms, follow suit?

It is possible because all of the companies that use app platforms and gig workers struggle to make a profit. There is tremendous pressure being applied by investors and stockholders. This pressure has been on the increase as many of these companies have grown, and gone public. They have a fiduciary responsibility to make money for their stakeholders. However, these companies also have a responsibility to treat drivers fairly.

Possible setbacks for rideshare and delivery driver rights in the US

What about all the gains that have been made for gig workers in the US? In Seattle, the city passed laws that established a minimum wage for gig drivers, and there are similar proposals in Massachusetts. The platform companies have fought tooth and nail to reverse this process, and to a large degree they succeeded with Prop 22 in California, as described in this Gridwise post.

The reasons for US companies’ pushback on any effort to resolve the employee vs. independent contractor controversy in the favor of drivers as employees are exactly the same as the explanation given by the European companies. These companies have to make a profit, and many of them are not even close. With the recession encroaching on what was once a booming business it will become even more difficult to secure investor capital.

Given all of this, the companies will probably not make any moves to grant gig workers employee status or pay for benefits in the way they do for corporate employees. There’s also the question of whether it’s better for gig workers to be employees. Employees get benefits, but they also have set hours and can only work for one platform at a time. The loss of flexibility is often a point people make when they express their preference for letting drivers and couriers retain their status as independent contractors.

Whether you want to be an employee or not, it looks less likely that companies are going to be able to afford to give their drivers and couriers set salaries and full benefits. That means if you’re committed to being a gig driver, you need to set yourself up for survival. Fortunately, there are ways of doing that.

Be proactive: protect your earnings and your economic well being

If the trends in Europe spread in the direction of the United States, rideshare and delivery drivers can expect that they will remain independent contractors for the foreseeable future. If no company is going to guarantee your wages, provide you with benefits, or contribute to workers’ compensation or disability insurance, what can you do?

Gridwise is here to support you. Maximize your earnings with features such as

Where to Drive and When to Drive, insight that tells you where and when you can make the most money.

Gridwise Benefits, which provides low-cost insurance and access to medical, mental health, and dental care. We’ve found a way to get benefits for rideshare and delivery drivers!

Discounts and deals for drivers give you an edge when it comes to keeping your costs of doing business down. This may not guarantee your minimum wage, but it surely does help to maximize your earnings.

With all this, plus airport and event info, traffic alerts, income and expense tracking, and more, there’s no doubt that Gridwise is much more than the best free mileage tracker you can get. It’s the world’s best rideshare and delivery driver assistant.

Download the free Gridwise app today!


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