FOOD delivery riders were among the unsung heroes during the lockdowns last year. As restrictions eased, they remain to be an integral part of the community delivery of food and satisfying our cravings.
Due to the pandemic, there was a hike in the demand for delivery service riders. With many being let go by their employers, several individuals found a new job by being a food delivery service rider.
However, last week, Davao City Councilor Pamela Librado raised concerns over the working conditions of food delivery riders.
She revealed that her office received reports that food delivery riders are required to secure business or occupational permits before they can offer their services.
According to Article 1, Section 94 of the Revenue Code of Davao City, any person or entity without a Mayor’s Permit and paying the necessary fees to the City Treasurer, cannot conduct or engage in any business, trade, or occupation in the city.
"By requiring the permits, riders would need to pay the City Environment and Natural Resources Office even if they don't have waste disposal; they would need to pay BFP fees and certificates even if they don't manage physical stores. Furthermore, they would need to shell out additional money for the BIR registration," Librado said.
She said her office also discovered that riders shoulder the cost of securing their permits.
"We found out that riders pay for their own gas or fuel and will end up shouldering any additional fees should they be required to have a business or occupational permit," Librado said.
Delivery riders are employed and classified by the food delivery service provider as “independent contractors” or mere “business partners.”
On April 13, during the city council session, Librado passed a resolution titled “A Resolution Urging FoodPanda, All Other Similar Entities, and the City Business Bureau to Suspend the Collection of Fees for Food Delivery Riders in Davao City.” The resolution also covers Grab and other food delivery riders.
These fees include electronic fee, garbage fee, mechanical fee, plumbing fee, sanitary permit, signboard fee, sanitary inspection, solid waste, tax clearance, and zoning fee, which amounts to more than P4,000 to be paid quarterly.
"In short, there is no employer-employee relationship in such cases, to the detriment of this new sector of workers. To require them to pay P4,000 for business permits in a situation where they do not have a stable income or tenure security is unjust," Librado-Morata said.
Librado said most delivery riders also do not have insurance and for those who have one, it is still the rider who shoulders the cost. On top of this, food delivery riders also had to deal being scammed by some customers and several inconsiderate or irrational customers.
"While the Revenue Code aptly contemplates regulation on the part of companies, it is inequitable to require the same rigid process for business permits to individual riders," Librado said.
Now, not all food delivery riders can provide a good service to everyone while some have been known to be a headache on the streets for failing to observe basic road etiquette. However, this emerging group of workers also deserve better working conditions.
There is a need for the local government unit, food delivery services, representatives of delivery service riders, and the Department of Labor and Employment to look into the working conditions of the food delivery riders. They have to come with sound policies that will ensure the safety and financial security of the riders.
As e-commerce becomes more prevalent, more will be working as a delivery service rider. This is an opportune time for the concerned stakeholders to come up with sound policies for better working conditions of the riders.