Meituan, guarantee delivery drivers' rights in contract signing
Meituan and delivery drivers at a crossroad in east China's Shandong Province, May 25, 2021. /CFP

Meituan and delivery drivers at a crossroad in east China's Shandong Province, May 25, 2021. /CFP

Food delivery giants Meituan and Alibaba Group's both emphasized this week they will not force delivery drivers to register as independent businesses, a bone of contention amid China's ongoing scrutiny of the sector.

Many drivers for food delivery or ride-hailing apps are hired indirectly by the platform and do not receive basic social or medical insurance.

A social media account covering labor law published an article this week alleging some drivers working for Meituan and were operating as individual businesses, as opposed to employees of the platform or a third-party company, thereby reducing the platform company's legal obligations to the driver. The piece spread widely across China's internet.

In a social media post published late on Tuesday, Meituan wrote that it aimed to improve its treatment of riders in aspects such as income, social security, and health and safety. published a statement on Wednesday pledging not to force drivers to register as independent businesses.

The promise comes as part of a broader push from regulators to improve conditions for "gig-economy" workers.

Chinese regulators gathered 10 leading delivery and ride-hailing companies for a meeting last week to give guidance on better-protecting labor rights. The meeting focused on improving how platform firms distributed incomes and ensured rest periods for workers.

Regulators drafted guidelines in July urging food delivery platforms to guarantee their workers' income was above the local minimum wage.

The July guideline also said that platforms and third-party contractors should participate in social insurance programs for the delivery drivers they employ.

(With input from agencies)

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