Author: Alejandra Dinegro
On May 15, Lima witnessed, for the third time, a massive demonstration led by delivery drivers associated with the Rappi platform. The triggering factor for this protest action was the introduction of a new modality known as “economical deliveries,” which allows users to place 2 or 3 orders while paying for only one.
These events serve as a reminder that, in 2019, protests also took place in response to arbitrary tariff reductions imposed by the Glovo platform, which directly affected the income of thousands of delivery drivers. Consequently, workers are constantly faced with the dilemma of either increasing their working hours, intensifying their workload, or accepting incentives offered by the platforms during specific days and hours to maintain their income without negatively impacting their ratings within the application.
In this regard, both the Congress of the Republic and the Ministry of Labor have responded slowly to the actions of the delivery drivers. In 2019, the protests prompted the formation of a Working Group by the Ministry of Labor, to analyse the labor conditions within digital platforms. The final report of this group found indications of an employment relationship, which led to proposals for establishing maximum daily working hours to safeguard the integrity of the drivers, as well as requirements for companies to provide protective equipment and improve communication channels.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Peru was one of the first countries in South America to declare a State of Emergency, close its borders, and impose mandatory social isolation starting in March 2020. In May, the government considered resuming certain economic and labor activities, including delivery services. However, it was only in August that delivery services were officially included in the list of essential activities, alongside sectors such as healthcare, telecommunications, transportation, and cleaning.
The mandatory social isolation also impacted the mobility sector, with the government stating that app-based taxis were considered private vehicles and, therefore, were not authorized or regulated to provide transportation services, hence strictly subject to quarantine measures. This forced several platforms to adopt changes such as offering new services and promotions, among others.
However, with the gradual resumption of these activities, the vulnerability of the delivery and mobility sector became evident. They lacked mechanisms for oversight, legal protection, and access to resources such as Severance Pay (CTS) or Pension Funds, which were available to formal workers. Furthermore, ensuring compliance with the sanitary protocols established by Ministerial Resolution N°163-2020-PRODUCE remained a significant challenge.
As a result, the protests this year have once again brought to the forefront the pending legislative debates and various proposals that have been under discussion since 2016 in the Congress of the Republic. While the discussion has primarily focused on the most popular digital platforms related to delivery and mobility, it is important to highlight that the problem is more extensive: the existence of a large number of independent workers in Peru, whether in traditional companies or in the collaborative economy, who work and generate income without having access to labor rights.
Since then, various members of Congress have attempted to address this issue from different perspectives. The first group of proposed bills aims to regulate delivery and mobility services by creating a national registry to transparently assign responsibilities to platforms and provide minimum guarantees to users. Notably, Bill N°3456/2018 made significant progress by proposing to ensure security, particularly for women, in the taxi service managed by technology-mediated companies, ultimately becoming law.
A second group of proposals focuses on regulating specific aspects, such as access to social security, by suggesting shared formulas between platforms and delivery drivers. Within this group, Bill N° 7567/2020-CR, which seeks to “guarantee minimum working conditions for workers providing delivery or mobility services through digital platforms,” was approved in the first vote by the Plenary of Congress.
Lastly, a third group of proposals explicitly addresses labor regulation and the granting of labor rights through dependent employment relationships. Currently, the Bill N° 018/2021 received an approving opinion from the Labor and Social Security Commission in mid-June of this year. However, in contrast to this proposal, Bill N° 1536/2021 aims to establish the category of independent service provider for individuals who provide delivery, messaging, and mobility services, among others, through a digital platform.
The recent protests have prompted a new stage of parliamentary debate and emphasized the need to find concrete solutions for individuals generating income through digital platforms. Nevertheless, both the Congress of the Republic and the Executive branch must take concrete actions, such as forming a new working group, establishing oversight protocols, or passing legislation. Furthermore, there is a need to generate conceptual input from labor law to address the new forms of employment and the challenges they pose in terms of defining worker and employer relationships.
In conclusion, the advancements and setbacks in attempts to regulate platform work in Peru highlight the necessity of establishing a legal framework that guarantees workers’ rights and promotes fair labor conditions within the digital economy. The protests have played a crucial role in bringing these issues to the public agenda and driving legislative actions, but further efforts are required to achieve effective regulation that safeguards the labor rights of workers in platform-based employment.