Lawmaker urges guidelines to protect delivery riders from unfair practices
Undated file photo shows a Muslim food delivery rider stopped at a pavement along Zobel Street in Manila to perform a ritual prayer.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Lawmaker urges guidelines to protect delivery riders from unfair practices

(Philstar.com) - May 17, 2021 - 1:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker Monday urged the Department of Labor and Employment to swiftly issue guidelines and labor standards that will better protect and promote the welfare of delivery riders.

In a statement, Sen. Risa Hontiveros called attention to the hundreds of complaints filed by food delivery riders before DOLE after they were treated only as freelancers by their mobile app operators. Another food delivery app left its riders with nothing after it ceased operations earlier this year, the senator added.

Hontiveros said that the guidelines should address these unethical terms of employment, emphasizing that delivery riders must be considered ‘employees’ since mobile app operators have control over their operations.

“DOLE should come up with guidelines that will provide riders with appropriate social protection coverage, including but not limited to basic pay and social protection coverages,” Hontiveros said in mixed Filipino and English.

"Delivery riders are responsible for so many transactions under community quarantine. But in exchange for delivering our orders, they face so many risks to their livelihood."

RELATED: DILG told: Act on reported lockdown enforcement vs delivery riders, people ordering food

The senator in her statement added that riders can avail of benefits under the law only when they are formally classified as ‘employees’. These include membership in the Social Security System as well as health insurance coverage under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

Hontiveros also stressed that it is vital for DOLE to craft specific and targeted measures for the informal and gig economies as they are seen to be on the rise with the country continuing to face economic recession.

She also demanded that personal protective equipment and periodic testing be provided for free by the logistics companies to prevent riders from acquiring COVID-19 while on duty, adding that her office was approached by one delivery rider who contracted the virus while on the job.

“DOLE should look at this. We believe that this is not an isolated case, as there are other logistic companies that might also be neglecting the welfare of its employees,” she said.

“The employer is responsible for the well-being of his employee during work hours. It's not right that there is no clarity as to who answers for our delivery riders if anything happens to them while on the job."

Earlier in the enhanced community quarantine, accounts of delivery riders ticketed by law enforcers at checkpoints for delivering "non-essential" goods went viral on social media, along with another video of a man arrested outside his home when he picked up food from a delivery rider.

“If the DOLE does not take action as soon as possible, it will continue and over and over again. It is time to issue a corresponding rule because more of our compatriots are employed in gig employment,” she said.

“Let's not forget that our delivery riders are also frontliners. Because of their work, we're safe and comfortable inside our homes. In this health and economic crisis, the protection they're asking for is valid. Hopefully, it's us who can bring them comfort this time around."

— Franco Luna with a report from Bella Perez-Rubio 

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