TAIPEI (CNA) — Fewer than half of food couriers in Taiwan expressed support for the government’s recent determination that couriers working for five local food delivery platforms are formal employees, even though it entitles them to more labor rights and benefits, a local job bank said Thursday.
The recent survey, which collected online questionnaires from 184 active and former food couriers, shows that 45 percent of respondents support the Ministry of Labor’s (MOL) announcement last month that based on existing law food couriers at five local food delivery companies are formal employers, said Chung Wen-hsiung (鍾文雄), a representative of the human resource company 104 Job Bank.
However, only 28 percent of respondents indicated they prefer to work as contractors while another 14 percent said they do not understand the difference between working as a contractor or formal employee, Chung noted.
Those in favor of having formal employment relations with the companies said they support the call because they will receive more benefits, Chung added.
Under Taiwan law, labor insurance is mandatory for employees of companies with more than five workers, and it covers injury on the job, death benefits, and retirement payments, among other items.
The survey was conducted after the MOL made a determination on Oct. 30 that food couriers at Foodpanda, Uber Eats, Lalamove, Cutaway and Quick Pick are formal employees and not contractors as the companies maintain.
The ministry said Thursday that it will publish official documents detailing its determination next week after consulting with scholars in related fields.
The MOL made the determination following an investigation of the issue amid heightened awareness of the welfare of food couriers after two died in separate road accidents within a one week period last month.
However, the ministry’s determination drew criticism from Taiwan’s Sharing Economy Association, whose members include companies such as Uber, Uber Eats, and Foodpanda.
The association said in a statement that the MOL should respect the work style of food couriers and not seek to regulate new businesses with outdated laws and regulations.
The association called on the labor ministry to develop regulations that are consistent with the needs of the digital economy.
Meanwhile, the job bank survey also found that the median monthly earnings for full-time food couriers is NT$45,000 (US$1,468) and median monthly earnings for part-time couriers NT$7,500, according to Chung.
Although the monthly pay is relatively high, full-time food couriers work a comparatively high average of 10.2 hours per day, which equals 44.5 hours per week, Chung noted.
The MOL number shows that Taiwanese in employment worked an average of 42.2 hours per week in 2018.
(By Tsai Peng-min, Wu Hsin-yun and Joseph Yeh)