Food courier work conditions investigation not yet concluded, Carmelo Abela says

Minister Carmelo Abela says it is illegal for non-EU nationals to work as self-employed

The authorities are investigating the work conditions of food couriers, a business that boomed during the pandemic
The authorities are investigating the work conditions of food couriers, a business that boomed during the pandemic

An investigation into work conditions of food couriers is ongoing but Minister Carmelo Abela has confirmed it is illegal for non-EU nationals to work as self-employed.

Abela said an investigation by the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations into the food courier business that boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet concluded.

He was replying in parliament on Wednesday to questions by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi.

Earlier this week, media reports suggested that the DIER investigation had revealed that 1,200 food couriers were illegally employed by recruitment agencies. A report by MaltaToday last month found that food couriers were losing half their wages in illegal employment practices used by agencies.

READ ALSO: Food couriers losing half their wages in illegal employment practice

“The investigation started towards the end of last year and it is ongoing… it is an issue of compliance in some instances but also of trying to safeguard a work model that developed over the past year as a result of the pandemic,” Abela said.

He urged MPs to wait for the investigation to end. Asked by Azzopardi what the law stated in terms of third country nationals, Abela said it was illegal for these to work as self-employed.

Abela added that talks on better regulations for platform work, also known as the gig economy, have been ongoing in the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development.