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What are the working conditions of last-mile delivery riders?

Annachiara Longoni, Sergio Salas, Cristina Sancha, Vicenta Sierra and Frank Wiengarten, ESADE Business School - Universitat Ramon Llull
Project selected in the Social Research Call 2019 (LCF/PR/SR19/52540008)

In last-mile delivery, supply and demand are matched by activating delivery workers (“riders”) on demand by means of online applications. This business model has generated new opportunities in the restaurant industry but has also created precarious working conditions for riders, who have limited earnings, job stability, and rights and protections (such as, worker representation within the companies, collective agreement coverage, and sick leave). However, most of the evidence related to this work relationship is anecdotal and the quantitative data are limited. Gathering data through a survey of 392 riders from six food-delivery platforms across Spain, the authors identify varying degrees of work precariousness among respondents. Surprisingly, respondents’ vulnerability in terms of continent of origin or education was not associated with a higher degree of precariousness. A greater share of the respondents with the least precariousness worked for the platform as their main occupation and had access to a motor vehicle. Finally, respondents experienced similar levels of fatigue and stress, regardless of the degree of precariousness they experienced.
Key points
  • 1
       Less than a quarter of respondents had low precariousness in their working conditions, as defined by earnings, job stability, and rights/protections.
  • 2
       Precarious working conditions were not linked to continent of origin but had a surprising link to education. Around 41% respondents in the least precarious group had only a primary or secondary education, compared to around 35% in the whole sample.
  • 3
       Working for a last-mile delivery platform as one’s main occupation was associated with a lower degree of precariousness (about 96% of cases in the least precarious group compared to just under 85% in the overall sample).
  • 4
       A lower degree of precariousness was associated with access to a motor vehicle (about 71% of respondents in the least precarious group compared to nearly 46% in the overall sample).
  • 5
       On average, respondents reported having high fatigue (4.06 out of 5 points) and stress (2.53 out of 5 points), regardless of precariousness.
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