A Wolt courier riding a bicycle by a pile of dirty snow in foggy Helsinki on 31 January 2024. Wolt on Wednesday received the ruling it had hoped for from the administrative court of Hämeenlinna, with the court ruling that its couriers are self-employed rather than employees. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE COURIERS of Wolt are self-employed rather than employees, the administrative court of Hämeenlinna ruled on Wednesday.

The Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland ruled in 2021 that the Finnish food delivery platform effectively has an employer-employee relationship with its couriers, ordering the company to keep a record of the working hours of couriers under the threat of a fine.

Wolt appealed against the decision, bringing the question to the administrative court.

The court revealed that it examined the relationship between the service provider and its couriers through four indicators of an employment relationship, according to YLE: an agreement to carry out work, remuneration for the work, carrying out the work personally for an employer and supervising the work.

Only the first two criteria were met, according to the court.

Couriers, for example, are not required to carry out their work personally, but they can use substitutes or outsource any particular delivery. It also ruled that couriers do not perform their work under such circumstances and conditions that they could be perceived as working under the supervision of the management of Wolt: for example, their working hours are not pre-defined and they are under no obligation to accept delivery assignments.

Also other factors taken into consideration by the court did not point to an employer-employee relationship.

The court concluded that the company monitoring that deliveries are completed and defining remuneration for delivery work alone do not constitute an employment relationship between the company and couriers because “in other respects” the circumstances of work do not point to work that is performed under such a relationship.

Joel Järvinen, the head of operations at Wolt Finland, voiced his satisfaction with the ruling in an interview with YLE on Wednesday.

“This is a historic decision in Finland. This is the first time that a court has thoroughly scrutinised the courier model of Wolt and ruled that it doesn’t constitute an employment relationship. We’re satisfied and relieved,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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