MADRID (AP) — A Spanish court has ruled that Amazon violated labor laws by forcing more than 2,000 delivery drivers to use an app the company controlled to schedule work and payments and requiring them to use their own cars and cellphones at work. .
Amazon could not treat the workers who used its Flex app as self-employed because the Spanish subsidiary of the electronic commerce giant “assumes the power to make all decisions related to the service, setting the conditions of execution and remuneration, and the circumstances of the day, hour and duration” of work, according to the ruling of the Social Court of Madrid released this Friday.
Amazon stopped using the Flex app in Spain in 2021.
Friday’s ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Spain’s social security agency following a 2019 labor inspection at an Amazon facility. The government agency is seeking to recover payments it says Amazon should have made on behalf of the drivers.
Amazon has long argued that Flex was an intermediary platform between independent drivers and customers in Spain, rather than a delivery service in its own right.
“We respect the court’s ruling, but we disagree and will file an appeal,” the company said in a statement, adding that it worked with a variety of delivery companies.
“Between 2018 and 2021 we also collaborated with some freelancers through the Amazon Flex program, which accounted for a small percentage of the packages delivered in Spain,” he adds.
The court decision is the latest in a series of legal measures in Spain that are designed to prevent e-commerce and delivery app companies from designating workers as freelancers when they have little control over their hours and earnings.
Spain’s socialist coalition government approved the “Deliverymen’s Law” in 2021, which classified food delivery people as employees of the digital platforms for which they work.
“This is one more step for jurisprudence as a corrective mechanism for new ways of working” through the apps, said the Spanish union UGT, which supported the lawsuit.
The ruling referenced a 2020 Spanish Supreme Court decision, which found Barcelona-based food delivery app Glovo was illegally treating “travellers” as self-employed.
Spain’s labor ministry fined Glovo 57 million euros ($62 million) last month for violating the same labor laws. Since then, the company signed an agreement with the Madrid regional government to deliver food to vulnerable people in the city.