UPDATE 1-Just Eat to add 4,000 workers on new contract terms in Italy

(Adds union leader’s comment)

ROME, March 30 (Reuters) - Just Eat said on Tuesday it would hire some 4,000 riders in Italy in order to comply with a decision by an Italian prosecutor aimed at improving conditions for workers of the gig economy.

A Milan prosecutor in February fined the Italian units of food ordering companies Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo and Spanish food delivery app Foodinho-Glovo and said they had to put more than 60,000 workers on contract.

The decision came at the end of an investigation launched in July 2019 after riders were involved in several road accidents, showing inadequate and unsafe working conditions.

So far, Just Eat, which comes under parent company Just Eat, is the only one to have complied with the prosecutor’s order to hire the workers.

“We welcome Just Eat’s decision and hope other delivery firms will follow suit,” Marco Odone, head of national union Uil Trasporti, told Reuters.

With a surge in the use of delivery apps, the rights of people working for “gig economy” service companies have come under increasing focus across Europe.

Companies face pressure to improve conditions, turning away from a model in which most workers are self-employed freelancers.

Just Eat will put riders in Italy on a national contract specifically designed for workers in the transport, delivery and logistics industry, which will grant them paid holidays, sick leave, social security and insurance, as well as union representation.

The minimum wage will be 8.50 euros ($9.96) per hour.

Those on the contract will be reimbursed for the distance travelled during work should they use their own bicycle or scooter and be given safety equipment like helmets and riding vests.

The accord has been signed with Italy’s largest sector unions, FILT CGIL, FIT-CISL and UIL Trasporti.

Just Eat Italy Country Manager Daniele Contini said of the agreement that “all players will benefit, starting from riders, but including restaurants and operators.”

The company has operated in Italy for 10 years in more than 1,200 towns, with over 21,000 partner restaurants, it said.

$1 = 0.8533 euros Reporting by Giulia Segreti, Additional reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler