Belgium's core cabinet reached agreement at the end of last week on better protection for parcel deliverers, including a minimum wage for all such workers, whether employed by a subcontractor or self-employed.
This was reported by Postal Affairs Minister Petra De Sutter and Minister of Economic Affairs and Labour Pierre-Yves Dermagne.
The two ministers said they hoped that after consultation with the sector, the agreements can be translated into rules this year.
"In Belgium, the stack of parcels to be delivered grew in 10 years from 72 million to 336 million in 2020," De Sutter said. "All those parcels only reach our front doors thanks to deliverers who are often exploited, have to work undeclared and have no social protection, as has been evidenced by disturbing reports and inspection visits," the minister added.
"The government has been working on a scheme to resolve this for some time. After some detours, it is now coming," De Sutter said. "For example, there will be more transparency in the subcontractor chain through a system of time registration."
"If we as customers order parcels, we can easily monitor them from depot to front door through a link. The inspection service, too, will soon be able to tell which deliverer is handling which package, whether he or she has a permanent contract or drives around for a subcontractor," the Groen minister added. "The government has decided to introduce a time registration system. In this way, we as the government can guarantee that nobody has to sit dog tired behind the wheel to deliver packages."
Economic Affairs Minister Dermagne, together with the Social Intelligence and Investigation Service, will propose a new strategy this year to combat social fraud more efficiently in the sector. There will also be a minimum wage for all parcel deliverers, whether employed by a courier company or subcontractor or working as independent deliverers.
"The framework we devised to protect self-employed parcel deliverers socially does not restrict free enterprise," De Sutter said. "Companies that want to allow parcel deliverers to drive around for a fair fee outside this framework can request a certificate if they can demonstrate in black and white that they provide their deliverers with social protection."
Minister Dermagne noted that this was "the first time that a minimum remuneration has been set within an industry that also applies to the self-employed."
It "could be a model for other sectors where the same problem occurs," he added. "I am very satisfied with this one solution, which now needs to be rolled out quickly in practice.”
Finally, welfare coordinators in the postal parcel depots will provide training to deliverers on their rights and obligations.