Chinese market regulator strengthens protection for food delivery workers

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A food delivery rider leaves after picking up parcels at a makeshift lunch hour distribution spot outside an office building following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China, August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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BEIJING, July 26 (Reuters) - Food delivery platforms in China are being pushed to guarantee their workers with income above minimum pay, insurance and a relaxation in delivery deadlines, under a set of reforms announced on Monday by China's market regulator.

The guidelines were issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation along with six other administrative departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission, the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Ministry of Public Security.

Food delivery platforms in China, including Meituan (3690.HK) and Alibaba's (9988.HK), have attracted severe criticism on social media for their treatment of delivery workers, most of whom are not covered by basic social and medical insurance.

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Meituan will "resolutely implement" the guidelines and continue to "effectively enhance labour rights," it said in a statement. Alibaba's (9988.HK) did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Meituan has been working with the government to purchase employment injury insurance for its delivery drivers, the company's chief executive, Wang Xing, said on a conference call in May.

Investors are worrying about the rising cost of employing riders by the platforms, Reuters had previously reported.

Meituan's Hong Kong-listed shares slumped nearly 14%, against a drop of 4.13% in the Hang Seng Index (.HSI).

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Reporting by Sophie Yu, Yingzhi Yang and Tony Munroe; Editing by Peter Graff and Anil D'Silva

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