Meituan Faces Scrutiny of Contracts With Delivery Workers

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday that regulators have recently conducted an online talk with local digital services platform Meituan to address an issue of wage arrears revealed by food delivery drivers in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

This is the first formal interview conducted by the country’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) aimed at promoting the standardized and healthy development of new employment forms since the implementation of an official document entitled “Guiding Opinions on Protecting the Labor Rights and Interests of Workers under New Forms of Employment” (Guiding Opinions).

The Guiding Opinions stress the need to protect the labor rights and interests of workers within new forms of employment, such as online car-hailing drivers, truck drivers and internet marketers, putting forward 20 measures in the aspects of guiding enterprises to standardize employment, improve employment security systems and optimizing public service measures.

On March 5 of this year, a video posted on social media revealed an issue regarding apparent wage arrears within Meituan. On March 8, a domestic website received a verified report that Meituan was in arrears with wages and bonuses, and that its workers could not obtain rest time. On March 25, another social media post revealed that one of Meituan‘s delivery stations in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang owed wages to more than 30 employees.

After noticing these problems exposed online, the Heilongjiang MOHRSS checked the labor agreements between Meituan and its riders. Existing problems reportedly include: the agreement statements are too simple, the rights and obligations of the two parties are not equivalent, and there are obviously unfair clauses for workers.

During the online interview on Monday, Meituan representatives said that the key problem of the mentioned events was the salary dispute between Meituan‘s partner company in Harbin and the food delivery drivers. In view of the fact that both parties agreed that salary would be paid on the 25th day of each month, it has been paid normally on February 25. Disputes over the calculation of performance bonus revealed by riders can be resolved by applying for labor arbitration. Meituan also indicated that it would further urge its partners to standardize labor agreements according to the requirements given by regulators.

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The regulators ordered Meituan to conduct rectification and self-inspection measures, issuing a related report by the end of April. In addition, the firm must provide contracts with various outsourcing enterprises and samples of labor contracts signed between outsourcing enterprises and drivers.