Spain court rules against Amazon over freelance drivers

A Spanish court has ruled that over 2,000 people who used their own vehicles to deliver packages for Amazon as self-employed freelancers should have been hired by the firm as formal employees.

Spain court rules against Amazon over freelance drivers
Spain to fine Amazon. Photo: JONAS ROOSENS / BELGA / AFP

The Madrid labour court said in Thursday’s ruling that these workers were “false freelancers” who should have been tied to the US firm with work contracts.

It also ordered the online shopping giant to pay social security contributions for the 2,166 people it hired under the guise of freelancers, according to a copy of the ruling seen Friday by AFP.

The court did not say how much the measure would cost but Spanish trade union UGT, which filed the complaint against Amazon, put the price tag at “several million” euros.

The union said this is the first time a court has ruled against the company’s Amazon Flex service, which works like ride-hailing service Uber.

Drivers use an app to sign up for shifts to pick up packages at warehouses and deliver them to Amazon customers’ doors.

Amazon Flex ceased operating in Spain in 2021 just before the country passed a law requiring delivery riders to be recognised as employees instead of self-employed contractors.

READ ALSO – OFFICIAL: Delivery riders become company staff as Spain’s labour reform kicks in

UGT said it would “continue to fight so that the rights of workers who provide services on digital platforms are respected” and to avoid “situations of labour exploitation”.

Amazon had argued it only acts as an intermediary that connects retailers and distributors – a claim rejected by the court.

It said in its ruling that Amazon used an app to direct and coordinate the drivers who “lacked their own autonomous business organisation”.

Amazon said it disagreed with the court’s rationale and would appeal the ruling.

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Is doing vocational training in Spain worth it?

The Spanish education system offers a whole host of vocational training courses. The Local looks at what 'formación profesional' is, the pros and cons, and the best (and worst) to study in terms of job prospects and pay.

Is doing vocational training in Spain worth it?

The Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training recently presented proposals for an overhaul to its vocational training programmes, known as formación profesional (FP) in Spanish.

FP courses are non-academic vocational courses that allow people to take on more job-focused training, continue studying after high school, go back to school after many years, or even study alongside their careers. 

There are a seemingly limitless variety of courses on offer, with everything from short 50 or 60-hour courses on artisan baking to highly-specialised audio description and subtitling courses taught over several hundred hours.

FP courses can range from a graphic printing technician to an electrician or even a renewable energy specialist. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The planned changes to vocational training in Spain

Medio and Superior

The first thing to understand is that in Spain there are three types, or levels, of FP training and qualifications. The two main ones are Grado Medio and the second Grado Superior.

As you might’ve guessed, the Superior, as it’s known, is of a higher level and can be used to apply directly for university. The Grado Medio can be used to move onto the Superior or start a bachillerato course.

There is also a third type of course, the FP básica, which is available to students who have studied until the third year of ESO or secondary school, but may have found traditional schooling difficult and could be better suited to more vocational training. The FP básica, which is often agreed upon between schools and parents, is a way of allowing students to continue some kind of formal training combined with job-related experience. 

READ ALSO: Spain to grant residency to unauthorised foreigners who complete vocational training

But is it actually worth studying an FP course in Spain? What are the advantages and disadvantages?


  • FP courses are more practical, preparing students for the world of work as opposed to university. This is especially true in ‘dual training’ and the Workplace Training (FCT) modules.
  • Though there’s still a bit of snobbery about non-academic courses, as there is in many countries, often the more specific and rigorous FP training can make people better prepared for the employment market and actually have better job prospects than many university degrees.
  • The training is often very specialised in fields employers are seeking.
  • All the courses (or ‘ciclos‘ as they’re sometimes known) last two years, half the length of a university degree in Spain, which means that FP students begin working (and earning) sooner than university graduates.
  • Some kinds of internships or work experience at industry-relevant companies are almost always included in Grado Superior studies.
  • FP training keeps the door open to university studies later down the road, and often you can transfer credits from your Grado Superior to your university course, cutting down the length.
  • Many FP courses can be taken online. 


  • Salaries are often lower than those of university graduates, especially when starting out in the job market.
  • It can, in some industries, be more difficult to climb up the corporate ladder and get managerial positions.
  • Unfortunately, there can somewhat of a stigma in Spain that FP vocational training is for ‘bad students’ who didn’t get into university.
  • The demand for FP courses is greater than the supply in some parts of Spain. 
  • If you choose to do your FP with a private company, vocational training can be expensive. 

Job prospects and salaries

Analysis from the Vocational Training Observatory (FP) of CaixaBank Dualiza looked at different FP courses and how they translate into the labour market and salaries. The type of FP course, it seems, can have a big impact on employability and salary. While around 70 percent of mechanical manufacturing FP graduates go on to achieve ‘high salary levels’, only 8 percent of Personal Image graduates (those studying courses such as beauty and hairdressing) reach this level, for example.

Based on their data, FP courses with a focus on industrial training are the ones with the best employment prospects. The following stood out from the report:

  • Installation and Maintenance (89.4 percent in work)
  • Mechanical Manufacturing (88 percent)
  • Transport and Vehicle Maintenance (87.2 percent)
  • Electronics (86.1 percent)

In terms of salary prospects, Mechanical Manufacturing, Installation and Maintenance courses came out on top with the highest percentage of graduates in the 4th and 5th quintiles (the top pay brackets), on 69.5 percent and 66.4 percent respectively. 

The worst FP courses in terms of pay were those studying beauty, where 78.3 percent of graduates are in the first and second quintile (with the lowest salaries), followed by Commerce and Marketing (65 percent), Image and Sound (57 percent) and Graphic Design as well as Socio-cultural and Community services (both with 51.8 percent).