Taiwan to regulate benefits for 45,000 food delivery drivers

Many food couriers are delivering meals without personal accident insurance

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Food delivery drivers take a break.

Food delivery drivers take a break. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan's labor ministry is set to draft a new law to protect more than 45,000 food delivery drivers nationwide, following reports of couriers being killed or injured on the job.

The reports said two drivers who died, working for Foodpanda and Uber Eats, were not entitled to any labor insurance benefits.

Following the Taipei City Government's draft rule on Nov. 1 forcing food delivery companies to provide couriers with personal accident insurance, the Ministry of Labor is poised to draft a national-level law to protect 45,129 food delivery drivers islandwide.

According to the city government's new draft rule, food delivery platforms are mandated to provide personal accident insurance to both independent contractors and employees working as couriers. The minimum accident insurance policy, said Deputy Taipei Mayor Tsai Bing-kuen (蔡炳坤), must have driver protection of NT$2 million (US$658,000) per person for accidental death and disability.

A fine of up to NT$100,000 will be levied on employers that fail to cover the insurance premiums. Also, food couriers should not be made to work during typhoon days off, under the draft rule.

On Tuesday (Nov. 5), legislators convened a public hearing that looked at the safety and rights of food couriers, which Deputy Labor Minister Lin Ming-yu (林明裕) also attended. Under discussion were the benefits that booming food delivery platforms should offer to their couriers, in addition to the potential penalties for companies that turn employees into contractors to avoid paying benefits.

DPP legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) asked the authorities to investigate the relationship between food delivery companies and their drivers. The companies often claim their drivers are independent contractors rather than employees.

The deputy labor minister said the organization had talked to food delivery platforms in mid-October and reached a consensus on working hours and order-to-driver assignment mechanisms. At the same time, the ministry also issued food delivery safety guidelines to better protect couriers.

In addition, the ministry decided to draft a new law to regulate the food delivery business and ensure that a total of 45,129 couriers nationwide can work in a safer environment. However, it wasn’t specified what protections would be required by the central government.