Spain prepares law to clarify status, whereas Serbia also demands retroactive taxes and contributions.

Dr. S-W – 03/2021

On September 29, 2020, the Madrid-based Spanish supreme court ruled that drivers for platform-based delivery services such as Deliveroo or Glovo should be considered employees of the respective platform operator. Since then it has become clear that the legislators must react. What is less clear is how. It is not only the operators who are trying to "limit the damage” from their point of view. There are also differing opinions as to how things should now proceed on the part of those affected. The two main Spanish trade unions, CC.OO and UGT have taken the ruling as an opportunity to call for protection to be extended beyond drivers to all forms of electronic platform work. On the other side, there are a number of drivers who want to remain independent so they can freely decide when and for whom they work. For their part, they have now formed associations, the largest of which are AAR and APRA.

They insist on being included in the government's negotiations with trade unions and employers. Basically, an agreement seems to have been reached to a large extent. This is aimed at a broader inclusion of all delivery services in the employee status, beyond the delivery of food to include the delivery of other goods. However, at the same time, there are indications that the legislative initiative is being exhausted here as purely online-based activities (e.g. "click-work") are being left out. 

The "platform work" issue is also causing unrest in Serbia, albeit in a very different way. The number of platform workers there is estimated to be about 100,000. However, it is not so much a matter of defining who is dependent on them and who is self-employed. The majority is neither, or in more specific terms: 2/3 of those concerned are simply not registered, and the remaining third have registered as self-employed. The 2/3 previously mentioned neither pay taxes nor social security contributions, which they would actually be obliged to do as self-employed people, at least for pension and health. This eventually came to the attention of the tax authorities when they began to investigate incoming payments from abroad more closely.

In October 2020, they began to retroactively claim up to 4 years of contributions. The response of the platform workers was to immediately form an association that sent a "last-ditch letter" to government leaders. First, they want to obtain a waiver of additional claims until their status is clarified. The "freedom" of the self-employed has its price in Serbia. Not only do they pay twice as much in social security contributions as their employed colleagues as they have to pay the employer's contribution themselves. They are also not entitled to sickness, maternity or unemployment benefits. However, the Finance Minister let the defaulters know that they will have to pay the tax and contributions in arrears - irrespective of their future status. There is a lot at stake: The arrears can add up to the equivalent of up to 2,000 euros per year - the equivalent of five months' average wages.