S. Korean deliverymen may be recognized as salaried workers

2020.10.07 12:50:31 | 2020.10.07 14:57:13

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Food deliverymen are expected to be recognized as salaried workers in South Korea subject to legal labor protections and rights.

Food delivery companies including Woowa brothers operating Baedal Minjok (Baemin), Delivery Hero (DH) Korea of Yogiyo and delivery startup Spidor Craft signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korean Federation of Service Workers’ Union and Rider Union on Tuesday in Seoul.

At the heart of the agreement is to recognize food delivery firms as employers and deliverymen as laborers, not freelancers, to establish a fair labor and management relationship between the two parties and allow workers to form a labor union to improve their working environment.

Under the agreement, the platform operators should allocate orders to drivers fairly and reasonably, and notify detailed criteria of work allocation. If the companies need to recruit permanent delivery workers, they should give the existing couriers the first chance.

The firms are also advised to encourage workers to sign up for occupational health and safety insurance and provide proper job training and protective gears.

The companies must not press the delivery drivers to make a quick delivery nor punish them for shipment delays as long as it’s not their fault.

But some industry experts question the effectiveness of the voluntary agreement that does not have any legal binding force. Other delivery platform operators who did not join the agreement said that uniformly recognizing every delivery driver as laborer could be unfair because there are still many couriers who want to work independently.

The companies and labor unions that participated in crafting the latest agreement will work together to establish a permanent consultative body within three months to maintain and update it. They also proposed the government revise related law and policy as well as expand coverage of employment and industrial accident compensation insurance to further enhance delivery drivers’ working conditions.

By Lee Ho-seung, Kang Min-ho and Choi Mira

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