Wolt’s thoughts on the Regional State Administrative Agency’s (avi) latest decision
The Regional State Administrative Agency (avi) published a decision today – Nov 1, 2021 – stating that they interpret Wolt couriers as employees. At the same time, avi stated that there are several things that support the interpretation of couriers as contractors, and to get a fair result for all parties, they would also wish to see this matter taken into the administrative court.
The Regional State Administrative Agency (avi) published a decision today stating that they interpret Wolt couriers as employees. At the same time, avi stated that they wish to see this matter taken into court, as it is complicated, and there are several things that support the interpretation of couriers as contractors.
We appreciate avi taking the time to look into this. We also agree with them in that the topic is complicated, and the best next step is to take the process to the administrative court. (So, for the time being, nothing will change for Wolt courier partners.)
Until today, avi – together with the Labour Council, on whose opinion avi is basing its thinking – has been the only authority to see Wolt courier partners working in an employment relationship. On the other hand, as has been have previously reported on the news, the Tax Administration, the Administrative Court in its recent decision in early summer, the Finnish Employment Accident Compensation Board, and the Appeal Board for Social Security have all considered the work of the Wolt courier to be contractor work.
Avi stresses that the matter is complex, legislation needs to be reformed, and so on. We agree with all of these. The avi people are only doing their job on the matter, and once the Labour Council gave their opinion, it is hard for avi to also act differently.
More than 70% of Wolt couriers believe that freedom of entrepreneurship is more important to them than employment security. Many of them are working on multiple platforms and have signaled to us that they hope we will fight for the current model. Therefore, continuing the administrative court process is about defending this new kind of work. From our point of view, it is a bit unorthodox to consider couriers working in an employment relationship, when a model in which a person decides their working time in real time cannot, even in theory, be organized in an employment relationship under the current Finnish legislation. (Instead, the employer is obliged, for example, to plan shifts at least a week in advance.)
If the work was to be arranged in an employment relationship under the current legislation, we would have to virtually terminate the contracts with all the current almost 5 000 couriers, and most of them would be left without work. After that, we would organize work for some 2,000+ couriers, where, unlike at present, people would get bosses, shifts, and performance targets, and the level of compensation and freedom would decrease significantly.
Then again, the reasoning why this work should already be considered contractor work is because:
- Unlike in an employment relationship, the courier decides for themselves when to do the work.
- They can accept and reject the gigs offered.
- They work with their own tools.
- They are free to work for other companies at the same time.
- They may use a substitute.
- They invoice Wolt per gig.
- The actual level of compensation has been more than 50% higher than it would have been in an employment relationship.
- And so on.
This is new kind of flexible work made possible by the mobile internet, and we would be better off enabling this kind of work as one option on the labour market, not preventing it fully.
The best way to improve the situation of every courier is to generally improve the safety nets of the self-employed – not to force people who want to work as contractors into an employment relationship.
For the future of flexible work and for all the couriers who enjoy the current model, we can’t wait to get an actual, hopefully positive, court decision on the matter.