8 December 2021



Belgium Belgium
Geographical scope
  • Type


  • Type

    Employment contract

  • Type

    Regulation of passenger transport



In the first ever Tribunal or court ruling in Belgium on the qualification of an employment relationship in the platform economy, on 8 December 2021, the Labour Tribunal ruled that Deliveroo riders are not employees. The labour prosecutors worked for two years to understand the working conditions of Deliveroo riders, investigating whether the workers should be reclassified as employees. The civil claim was not successful as the judges believed the self-employed workers do not fiscally benefit from the sharing economy’s system.

This case had two key questions, (1) whether Deliveroo riders can use the fiscally beneficial system for the sharing economy, and (2) whether Deliveroo riders should be qualified as self-employed or as employees (with Deliveroo as employer).

The Tribunal stated that Deliveroo did not comply with conditions which need to be fulfilled in order to be considered part of the sharing economy. The following conditions were ruled as not being met by Deliveroo:

  • The services can only be provided to private persons not acting in the course of their business activity, while the services are also provided to restaurants and the food can be delivered to professional clients (e.g. a business lunch).
  • The services do not generate income exclusively from the delivery of goods, the tribunal considers that the delivery of food is exactly that.
  • The services are provided only within the framework of contracts concluded through the intermediary of an authorised electronic platform, while the tribunal refers to two letters of the tax administration in which it declares that Deliveroo cannot make use of the system.

As such, riders must be self-employed and due to this, be liable for unpaid taxes and social security contributions.

Couriers joined the case demanding the application of the labour law provisions (application of wage scales, reimbursement of expenses, compliance with the collective bargaining agreements concluded in the “Transport and Logistics” Joint Committees). This addressed the second question: what is the legal qualification of relationship between Deliveroo and its riders?

The Tribunal rejected claims from Deliveroo that it was not a transport or logistics company as the services rendered by the riders is what was being assessed, not that of Deliveroo. Using the investigation from prosecutors, 6 out of 8 specific criteria of the road transport and logistics sector were fulfilled for a rebuttable presumption that the Deliveroo drivers were employees:

  • no financial risk for the Deliveroo rider;
  • no responsibility or decision power concerning the financial means of the company;
  • no decision power concerning the purchase policy of the company;
  • no decision power concerning the pricing or the remuneration for delivered services;
  • no “obligation de résultat” (obligation of result), only an obligation of means;
  • not appear as a separate company towards third persons;
  • no possibility to subcontract for riders using the system of the sharing economy (+ 80%)

However, when assessing the four general criteria of the Labour Relations Act (last amended at the time in 2006) of Belgium, the presumption of employment could indeed be rebutted:

  • the will of the parties (according to the contractual terms of their collaboration) was to provide independent services and to conclude an agreement in this regard;
  • couriers were free to organise their working time (and the system of pre-booked time slots is not a restriction);
  • couriers were free to disconnect (no hierarchical control) from the platform whenever they wish and they were not obliged to accept deliveries as long as they are not connected. Based on the declarations of the couriers, there was no evidence that the platform exercised concrete hierarchical control: basically, the Deliveroo riders did not receive precise instructions from Deliveroo, they did not have to justify their absences, nor did Deliveroo have a power to sanction the riders.

While the Tribunal states the examples are of a substantively different context and nature, the court referenced cases for Deliveroo and Uber in Belgium (rulings nrs. 113 and 116 of the Administrative Commission for the qualification of the labour relationship) and beyond its borders (e.g., the cases before the Cour de Cassation in France and Gerechtshof Amsterdam).

Updates (1)

The following recent changes to this court ruling have been recorded.

12 January 2024

The court ruling of December 2021 establishing that Deliveroo riders are self-employed has been overturned by the Belgian labour court in Brussels on 22 December 2023. The ACV-CSC union had appealed the initial court decision which concluded that Deliveroo riders could be considered self-employed. The court has now concluded that all Deliveroo riders are employees.

As a result, Deliveroo is obliged to pay social security contributions for its riders, and needs to comply with applicable sector agreements. Deliveroo riders are also entitled to benefits which come with the employment status, meaning minimum wages, occupational accident insurance, the right to apply for unemployment benefits in the case of job loss, and sectoral collective bargaining. The court has also emphasised that, because Deliveroo riders are employees, the sharing economy law which was being disputed in the court ruling of 2021 is not applicable.

Deliveroo has announced that it will appeal the decision of the labour court and take the case to the supreme court.

Additional metadata

sector aspects, competition, lobbying, employment status
Platform, Client, Employee organisation, Court
Transportation and storage



Eurofound (2021), Brussels Labour Tribunal qualifies Deliveroo riders as self-employed (Court ruling), Record number 4264, Platform Economy Database, Dublin,