Why You Should Think Twice Before Ordering Off Deliveroo

Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Deliveroo has barely been out of the headlines in recent days. The online food delivery company has been criticised for how it treats its workers, who aren't really "workers" per se, but self-employed contractors. It's under fire over a new pay deal it's trialling on some of its riders this month. Last night, the company announced it wouldn't force the new contract on them, which many believe will make riders' earnings even less secure, and offered some other concessions. But some say these concessions aren't enough. So what exactly is going on?

What Is Deliveroo Proposing?

The company wants to introduce a new payment scheme, which would see its riders earn £3.75 per delivery with no guaranteed hourly pay rate. They currently get £7 per hour plus £1 per delivery. Remember, because the couriers are self-employed they already provide their own transport (bicycles and motorbikes), insurance and aren't eligible for holiday pay or sick pay, The Guardian reported. And because they're not legally "workers", they're not eligible for minimum wage. Their £7 per hour wage was already below the minimum wage. In practice, the line between being "self-employed" and a "worker" is thin. The government recently stepped in, telling the company it must pay riders minimum wage unless a court rules that they're actually self-employed.

Deliveroo Riders Have Been Striking

Drivers and riders in London staged a week-long strike against the payment scheme outside the company's offices. Many say it will mean they end up making less money overall and that it makes their income even more uncertain that it already is. The Labour party deemed the move "a return to Victorian Britain". One rider told Vice it would make him more likely to have an accident on the roads while trying to complete as many deliveries as possible in peak times. "I'm gonna be crazy. I'm gonna be the fastest rider on the road. I'm gonna be like, 'Oh shit, if I do this job, there's more chance of getting another job.' I'm gonna be rushing everything – I might jump a traffic light, you never know. There's more chance of having an accident," he said. Riders want a guaranteed London living wage of £9.40 per hour, an extra £1 per delivery and "a commitment by Deliveroo to cover the costs of insurance and repairs," said Mags Dewhurst, Chair of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain couriers and logistics branch.

What Happens Next?

In a blog post on the company's website last night, founder Will Shu said he still thinks the pay scheme is a good idea. "We truly believe – and have seen in previous trials – that average driver fees will increase," he wrote. Deliveroo will go ahead with a trial of the new payment scheme, on 280 out of 3,000 riders in London, but it now won't force riders to sign a contract agreeing to it. They can try it and opt out. However, if they don't want to and the trial is taking place in their assigned delivery zone – including parts of Camden, Hampstead and Belsize Park in London – they'll have to work elsewhere, in an area they might not know. "If riders wish to stick with the old scheme, we simply ask them to move over to a neighbouring zone, no more than two miles away," Shu said. The trial will last until the 14th of September, when the company will meet with riders to discuss their month's pay. So, until we know how what riders make of the new deal, we can't be sure what the impact will be. Unfortunately, the only way to ensure your takeaway finds it way to you ethically is to go and get it yourself.

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