Amazon fined over labor law breaches in Spain

Amazon has been fined again for breaching labor laws in Catalonia, Spain. The ecommerce giant has been under investigation by regional labor authorities over its subcontracting practices for a number of years.

According to local press reports, the latest fine for Amazon — of €3.2 million — follows a penalty of over €800,000 it received in 2020, for similar breaches of labor laws. In both instances, the Generalitat fined companies Amazon had subcontracted for delivery services or to provide it with temporary staff — issuing a total of around €2.6M in fines to 17 companies in the latest case, per local media.

A spokesperson for the regional government confirmed the penalties, telling TechCrunch: “The Catalan Labour Inspectorate proposes a [total] fine of €5.8M to Amazon for subcontracting workers, according the Statute of Workers Rights.”

Amazon was approached for a response but a company spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on ongoing legal cases” — suggesting it is seeking to appeal.

Spain passed a reform to its labor laws last year targeting bogus self-employment classifications of couriers by delivery platforms. However the government spokesperson confirmed that Amazon’s practices are being challenged under the wider Statute of Workers Rights, rather than the more targeted labor reforms — which was aimed at on-demand delivery platforms that use so-called ‘gig’ labor, rather than employing delivery workers.

In both cases, the concern that’s driving policy and enforcement action is geared towards tackling labor practices that can lead to precarious employment situations — where workers are subject to worse conditions and benefits than if they were directly employed.

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