The development of the gig economy has triggered numerous debates in France—as it has in other countries—about the legal status and the protection of workers. Although the French Parliament has started to regulate the sector, it has so far refused to establish a legal presumption of their status as employees. This policy choice leaves workers in a precarious situation. Whereas people who are seeking to enhance their income for a limited period of time may find this arrangement attractive, it can entail significant difficulties for people who engage in this work as a full-time, long-term occupation.
This study, conducted by the Fairwork team in France, shows that the working conditions on bicycle delivery platforms are clearly better for people who have an employment contract than for self-employed workers. However, it also shows that such contracts entail higher costs, which puts any platforms that choose this model in a more fragile position than their competitors. This report highlights that when platforms specialise in meal delivery, they usually cannot offer sufficient work throughout the day, so there are long unpaid waiting periods between orders. If platforms were to diversify their activities to include other kinds of services outside peak mealtimes, they could perhaps mitigate this problem. However, very few platforms have pursued this option, so couriers sign up with several platforms in parallel to try to get enough paid work. This approach, however, further weakens their situation on each platform.
This report is the first Fairwork rating exercise undertaken in France. Six bicycle delivery platforms were rated on the five Fairwork principles, and each received a score on a 10-point scale.