Labour politician and member of Parliament for Birkenhead Frank Field (pictured) has recommended that Deliveroo establishes a guaranteed minimum payment for its riders when they make their services available to the organisation, rather than continue with the existing pay per delivery model.
The proposal follows Field’s five-week inquiry, which launched on 18 June 2018. The inquiry gathered evidence from Deliveroo riders in order to better understand the living standards of individuals working as part of the gig economy. It also explored whether there is a need for additional safeguards for these types of workers.
Field’s resulting paper, Delivering justice: a report on the pay and working conditions of Deliveroo riders, published in July 2018, suggests that Deliveroo implements a guaranteed minimum payment for its riders when they make their services available to the organisation. This is to ensure that riders who are logged in to the Deliveroo app and are available for work do not earn less than the national living wage if they are unable to complete delivery orders due to a lack of demand. The recommendation seeks to establish a floor, not a ceiling, for riders’ earnings.
Currently, the majority of Deliveroo riders are paid per delivery rather than on an hourly basis. Prior to this pay model being implemented, some riders did receive guaranteed hourly rates of pay that were then topped up with pay linked to the number of meals they delivered per hour. The report states that guaranteed hourly rates are now used in a limited number of areas for riders who are logged in to work and available to accept all eligible orders, however this is often a time limited offer or used as a temporary means to attract new riders into certain areas.
The report finds that Deliveroo riders’ hourly earnings can range between £0 to £17 an hour, with average earnings approximately between £5 an hour and £12 an hour. It calculates that riders working for Deliveroo therefore need to complete at least two deliveries an hour in order to earn the equivalent of the national living wage, although its findings also confirm that this is not always possible, due to reasons such as too many riders compared to the number of orders.
The document, also contributed to by Andrew Forsey, further recommends that Deliveroo should commit to offering a form of worker status to riders who have built up a service record over a certain period of time and who want greater stability and certainty from their work. It further suggests that the director of Labour Market Enforcement should investigate sectors offering platform-based jobs and report on the various pay levels for different worker groups. This investigation should also look to the reality of the self-employed status, and the validity of organisations’ use of that classification.
A Deliveroo spokesperson explained that the organisation is proud to “offer flexible well-paid work where riders on average earn well over £10 an hour”, above the national living wage.
He said: “In the modern economy people want to fit their work around their lives, not the other way round. This is why working with Deliveroo is so popular as it gives riders total flexibility. Riders choose how much they want to work and when, and are very clear they want to protect the flexibility that self-employment provides.
“Deliveroo believes more can be done to increase the security for riders while protecting their ability to be their own bosses, which is why we have introduced free, market-leading insurance for all, covering riders in case anything goes wrong.
“But we want to go further, and have called on the government to update employment rules to end the trade-off between flexibility and security and enable platforms to offer riders even more benefits without putting their employment status at risk.”
Field’s report additionally recommends that fines imposed by agencies acting for the director of Labour Market Enforcement should be put back into building a common workforce, to take a proactive approach to protecting workers’ rights. This would include increasing the number of random checks.
A further proposal outlined in the document is that employment law should be reformed to require organisations to prove beyond doubt that it meets certain criteria showing that its workforce is self-employed.
Field said: “The self-employed status and part-time nature of much gig economy work has given the labour market a flexibility that is still relatively new. Some of those workers who are keen to seize this opportunity view it as a short-term option while they develop their longer term earning power; setting up their own business, starting on an artistic career and the like.
“But for an unknown number of workers these imposed self-employment opportunities are all there is on offer, even though their need is for stable work for at least the level of the national living wage. It is this group that we are concerned about in this report and have been in each previous report we have published on the gig economy. The reform programme we outline will, I hope, be picked up by Deliveroo and the government as a means of both protecting this group while preserving the flexibility that so many riders have said they value.”