Platforms workers will get leave, a minimum wage, overtime and other standard benefits under a new legislative package.
The government announced the measures earlier today, which also include social security contributions, statutory bonuses, and crucially, transport payments, which include license, insurance, fuel, communication and other material.
Agencies will no longer be able to deduct payments from workers’ wages or charge so called “recruitment fees”.
Agencies will also need to provide workers with transparent information in terms of work performance, hours, and other information.
All information must be presented to the Department of Industrial Relations and Employment
The rules will come into force in three months time to help platforms and workers get in line.
Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul, who announced the new rules, said that the regulations will give dignity and protect the interests of workers in the field.
The platform worker industry has been under the microscope in recent months particularly after Bolt Food workers went on strike over their poor earnings.
The food courier industry – mainly dominated by Wolt and Bolt – surged in popularity in Malta during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping countless businesses afloat, and it has remained very much active following the end of restrictions on restaurants and social gatherings.
However, the industry has been criticised for the working conditions of certain couriers. While EU nationals can be self-employed for the food courier apps and other platforms in the gig economy, third-country nationals must find employment through a fleet operator.
A bulk of those striking were third-country-nationals employed through fleet agencies. And while there are many fair operators in the field, many cowboy operators, who take explorative fees and rates from their couriers, are creating major issues.
In some cases, fleet agencies, who act as employers for third-country-nationals who work with food courier platforms, take at least 50% of their pay.
Meanwhile, Bolt Food has routinely slashed fees paid to couriers by reducing their peak-time bonuses by an average of more than 50%.
One courier told Lovin Malta how he earns just “around €40 to €50 in hand, following a 12 to 15 hour work day, as around 50% has to go towards [their] agencies”.
According to the figures, it appears that there are some third-country national Bolt workers that earn between €2.66 and €3.33 an hour on a good day. The minimum wage in Malta is €4.57.
The government has long pledged to address issues in the sector, but this is the first major development in a few years.
What do you think of the new measures?