For the first time, the Cour de cassation established a link of subordination between an internet platform and one of its bicycle couriers. A very important decision for the lawyer of the former delivery man.

Gathering of bicycle couriers in Paris (illustration).  (BRUNO LEVESQUE / MAXPPP)

For the first time, the highest French court recognized Wednesday, November 28 a link of “subordination” between a bicycle courier with the status of auto-entrepreneur and an internet meal delivery platform. “Power must be regulated”, explained Thursday on franceinfo Me Manuela Grévy, lawyer at the Council of State and the Court of Cassation, lawyer for the former deliveryman of the company Take Eat Easy, and the CGT confederation.

franceinfo: What was the Court of Cassation based on to establish this link of subordination?

Me Manuela Grévy: She recalled the definition of the relationship of subordination which is the criterion making it possible to distinguish the self-employed worker from the salaried worker. The relationship of subordination is characterized by the performance of work under the authority of an employer who has the power to give orders and directives, to control their execution and to penalize breaches. It noted that the Court of Appeal had found an application equipped with a geolocation system allowing real-time monitoring of the courier, on the other hand a sanction system. This resulted in orders, directives, control and the power to sanction. So what the Cour de Cassation is telling us is that the Court of Appeal did not draw the legal consequences from its findings, namely the link of subordination.

Why is this decision important?

For the first time, the Court of Cassation was called upon to rule on the question of the qualification of this relationship between platforms and workers. Finally, what the Court of Cassation tells us is that it is not because we are a platform worker that there is no relationship of subordination.

What are the important aspects?

There are two important aspects. One which is rarely mentioned but which is at the heart of labor law and which is the question of power. To be an employee is to be subject to the subordination of an employer and a power must be regulated. The object of labor law is to guarantee a balance between the questions of a power and the protection of those who are subject to it. Then there is the other aspect which is the aspect of guarantees and protections attached to the status of employee.

Can this decision set a precedent, apply to other platforms?

Everything will depend on the de facto conditions in which to exercise the activity. Uberization is a new form of organization of exchanges which is not exclusive of an employee relationship. But when power is exercised in this form of organization, there is no reason why the labor code should not apply.