Deliveroo loses appeal over Dutch pension payments

The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that Deliveroo should pay pension contributions for its couriers in the Netherlands.

The food delivery company, which exited the Netherlands in November 2022, has been in a long-running legal dispute over pension contributions but last Friday, 24 November, it lost its appeal. The court ruled that meal delivery couriers fall under the collective labour agreement for professional freight transport and must pay pension contributions retroactively.

Anja Dijkman, director of Dutch trade union, FNV, which has been heavily involved in the dispute, said: “This ruling by the Supreme Court is a logical follow-up to the previous ruling in March, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Deliveroo's meal deliverers are employees and not self-employed.”

The couriers are therefore entitled to be members of the mandatory, Pensioenfonds Vervoer, for the professional road transport industry.

FNV said the decision has far-reaching consequences as although Deliveroo no longer operates in the Netherlands, it applies to other platform companies such as Uber Eats.

FNV vice chairman, Zakaria Boufangacha, said: “These companies say that their employees are self-employed, but in practice this turns out to be untrue. The employees are indeed managed and have virtually no say over rates and conditions.

“The result is that they have to pay for and arrange their own insurance, days off and pensions. That does not happen, because the rate is far too low for that. But society is also losing money because companies are now not paying premiums for employee and national insurance such as WIA and WW and are not contributing to pension funds.”

Commenting on the nuances of pension membership in the Netherlands, AF Advisors consultant and Utrecht University researcher, Jorik van Zanden, explained: "One cornerstone of the Dutch system is that it relies on compulsory membership depending on which sector an employee is active. For example, as a civil servant, you are obliged to join the ABP pension fund – one of the largest in Europe. However, this sectoral approach often leads to litigation as it is unclear under what sector someone is active.

"A good example is whether a pancake is considered part of pension fund bakery or confectionery. Of course, this may appear a somewhat trivial question, but it is highly relevant as employers will be forced to retroactively pay premia to the fund they fall under.

"It was not trivial for Deliveroo – which argued that it did not fall under one of the sectoral pension funds ‘professional delivery of goods over roads’. It continued to argue that this fund only applied to motorised transport but not bikes. This was to no avail, and the Supreme Court ruled against Deliveroo, forcing it to pay the outstanding premia for its drivers."

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