At a glance
- The Curia, Hungary’s most senior court (Court), ruled that the provision of services through a platform operated by a company does not necessarily imply the existence of an employment relationship between the company and the courier.
- The Court stressed, that in platform work, is not possible to apply general rules regarding the existence of an employment relationship. Instead, it is necessary to examine the specific circumstances of the work in question.
Ruling on the qualification of platform workers
In December 2023, the Court passed a judgment on the qualification of platform workers. The Court ruled that the provision of services through a platform operated by a company does not necessarily imply the existence of an employment relationship between the company and the courier.
The plaintiff, a food delivery courier, asked the Court to declare that their platform-based work constituted an employment relationship. The Court rejected the claim in the specific case and classified the relationship as a civil law relationship.
Assessment of an employment relationship on a case-by-case basis
The Court stressed that platform work is not a homogeneous, uniform phenomenon or concept. Activities carried out through digital platforms can be diverse. Given this and the lack of a relevant legislative environment, it is not possible to apply general rules based on the nature of the work carried out. It is therefore always necessary to examine the specific circumstances of the work in question.
The dismissal of the claim was based primarily on the absence of subordination, which is the primary characteristic of an employment relationship.
The Court did not consider the level of instructions given by the employer in the underlying case sufficient to qualify as an employment relationship. The circumstances that the Court has deemed insufficient include:
- the platform in question does not grant the company a broad right of direction and control over the place, time and manner of work performance;
- the company requires the courier to wear corporate identity elements;
- the courier is obliged to be available during the active period defined by the courier;
- the courier can only accept the offered delivery task within a certain period of time;
- the courier carries out the activity with their own work equipment (mobile phone and car), so the resources strictly necessary for the performance of their tasks are not provided by the company.
Moreover, the fact that the courier does not perform their duties within the work organisation of the company also refers to the lack of hierarchical relationship and dependence characteristic to an employment relationship. The fact that the courier has the right to determine and schedule the working time (active period) themselves means that the number of hours of employment is solely adapted to the courier's needs. This removes a fundamental qualifying feature of employment since Hungarian labour law does not recognise any such type of employment relationship.
The form of remuneration (hourly basic fee and delivery fee per address) was not considered by the decision as a determining factor for the qualification of the legal relationship.
Takeaways for employers
The decision was made strictly on a case-by-case basis, considering the circumstances of the specific case. Nevertheless, the decision is a good lesson for the examination of the existence of an employment relationship in the area of platform workers. The Court dealt with the requirements for an employment relationship in detail and weighted each criterion individually.