The decision by food delivery company Bolt to stop the engagement of self-employed courier drivers was not a result of employment law amendments, Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul said in parliament on Wednesday.

He was speaking during a debate on amendments to the Employment and Industrial Relations Act. The new law seeks to establish clear regulations for recruitment agencies and digital platforms when hiring workers. Digital platform workers will be guaranteed a fixed wage, statutory bonuses, overtime pay and sick leave.

Self-employed courier drivers engaged by Bolt earlier this week received an email from the company informing them that their agreement was being terminated within 30 days.  Bolt said it would will only cooperate with couriers who are employed by work agencies. 

Ellul said Bolt’s decision has nothing to do with the new law.

“Bolt is a private company registered in Estonia and it decided to take this decision. It was purely a commercial one, and not a legal requirement,” he said. 

He said claims that self-employed workers in the sector will end up without work were false. 

“This reform will ensure there are more opportunities for people to work in this sector. It will bring about a level playing field and cut out abuse,” he said. 

He said the sector grew very quickly, taking many by surprise. The authorities had considered criticism that they were not doing enough for digital platform workers and that their conditions were unfair.

However, the criticism that the new law would leave such people without work was not true. 

Further talks were being held between the authorities and local companies employing digital platform workers to ensure the sector thrives., he said. 

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