Denmark's Wolt couriers face years-long wait for injury compensation

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Denmark's Wolt couriers face years-long wait for injury compensation
Wolt couriers in Denmark are still not certain to receive compensation if they are injured while working. The company has appealed a recent ruling which obliges it to insure drivers. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Drivers with delivery service Wolt face uncertainty if they suffer injuries in the course of their work after the company appealed against a ruling that would oblige it to pay compensation.


Wolt delivery staff in Denmark, many of whom are foreign nationals, must wait to find out whether they can receive compensation from the platform in the event they are injured in the course of their work, or if they have been injured in the past.

A recent ruling by Denmark’s occupational injury authority, Arbejdsmarkedets Erhvervssikring (AES), found that Wolt is obliged to pay compensation to delivery drivers if they are injured while working.

The ruling means AES views Wolt drivers as employees of the company in the sense that they are covered by Denmark’s regular laws on occupational injuries. As such, they would be entitled to compensation if they are injured at work - under the same terms as anyone working in Denmark for a Danish company.

But Wolt has appealed against the ruling, disputing the assertion that its relationship with its drivers, whom it describes as “courier partners”, is the same as that between employer and employee.

Because the decision has been appealed, Wolt does not have to pay out compensation in any cases until the appeals process has concluded. This could take several years given the potential of the appeal to go all the way to the supreme court, according to trade union publication Fagbladet 3F.


One former Wolt driver impacted by the situation, Mahendra Poudel, told The Local he had difficulty continuing in his job after an accident while driving for Wolt in Copenhagen in June.

Poudel, who is from Portugal, said he came off his moped on the way to a delivery address after he swerved sharply to avoid a child who stepped into the road.

“I couldn't think of anything. Nothing else came to my mind except that I should save that child. I had to take a risk,” he said.

He was taken to Bispebjerg Hospital where he was treated for wounds on his hands and legs. Later, he suffered complications including internal bleeding and pain walking, meaning he was unable to work for three weeks.

He informed Wolt of the incident but was told he did not qualify for the company’s insurance because of the nature of his injuries, he said.

“I informed the insurance of Wolt where I worked that I had an accident. The insurance sent me a reply that the accident cannot be insured.”

The reasons given were that his injuries were not severe enough, he did not stay overnight in hospital and did not incur medical expenses over 70 euros.

Poudel added: “Now my leg is getting better and the wound on my hand is also getting better. Chest pain has reduced a lot. I am taking medicine. I am looking for an easy job. I will now have problems paying rent and eating, because for three weeks or more I was jobless."

Mahendra Poudel was injured during a courier job for Wolt. Photo: private

In a written comment to The Local, a spokesperson for Wolt said that it did not agree with the AES decision over its drivers’ right to compensation and confirmed it appealed.

“We do not agree with the interpretation of the relationship between the courier partner and Wolt upon which the decision is based,” the company said.


“We believe in general that the courier partners should be considered self-employed”, it said, citing a number of features of the work including that “they decide themselves when, where and which delivery services they want to provide for Wolt”.

“The majority of our courier partners value this freedom and flexibility, which comes with being self-employed,” it said.

Wolt noted it is now awaiting the next step in the appeals process. “For now we do not have other comments”, the spokesperson told The Local.

Over half of Wolt’s couriers in Denmark are foreign nationals according to the company’s website. Of the 4,000 couriers attached in Denmark, around 45 percent are Danes, with 35 percent from other EU countries and 20 percent from the rest of the world.

Poudel said he was shocked by the lack of coverage for his injuries and losses after his accident.

“I never imagined that there would be no accident insurance,” he said.

“It will take years to fight the case in court but for the poor workers like us, whether we win or lose, there is no justice,” he said.

“Delay in justice is also a kind of injustice for us poor people. Now I'm kind of stuck. Somewhere in depression. Because I have no work to do,” he said.


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