Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats agree to extra checks to tackle illegal working in UK

Total of 42 per cent of riders stopped over six days last year were found to be working illegally

A Deliveroo delivery driver cycles through the centre of Manchester. Reuters
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Food delivery companies Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats have committed to extra security checks on their British riders, as the government steps up efforts to make it harder for people to work illegally.

Delivery drivers work in the gig economy, which means they are self-employed and have the right to substitute another rider to carry out jobs.

The government said a “small minority” of riders, who the companies check can work legally, have taken advantage of the system to avoid ensuring their substitutes had the same right to work in Britain.

The government said the informal agreement leaves the companies with no way of knowing whether the substitutes have permission to work legally.

But all three companies have now agreed to change their processes, introducing a substitution registration feature which checks that all riders have the right to work in the country.

Earlier this month, Deliveroo became the first to roll out the system, which includes right-to-work checks.

In total, 42 per cent of riders stopped by an enforcement team over six days in April last year were found to be working illegally, according to information from a Freedom of Information request.

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Michael Tomlinson, the Minister for Countering Illegal Migration, said the government is “committed to cracking down on unchecked account sharing”.

He added: “Illegal working puts their customers at risk, drives down wages and defrauds the taxpayer. It is vital that we shut down any loophole that allows it to happen.”

A representative for Deliveroo said the company takes its responsibilities “extremely seriously” and it is committed to strengthening our controls to prevent misuse of the platform.

“We are the first major platform to roll out direct right-to-work checks, a registration process and identity verification technology to ensure that only substitutes with right-to-work can continue riding on our platform,” the representative added.

Uber Eats said it plans to roll out identity verification checks to help ensure “only those who legitimately use someone else’s account to earn with us are able to”.

A Just Eat official said: “We take our responsibilities on this issue seriously and have high expectations for couriers delivering on our behalf, which is why we’re continuing our work together with industry and policymakers to develop a solution which will ensure couriers substituting their work do so in accordance with the law.”

The ruling Conservative Party, which is trailing Labour in polls ahead of an election expected later this year, is trying to win over voters with its tough stance on migration.

The government’s Safety of Rwanda Act and an accompanying treaty were ratified last month, paving the way for the first deportation flights to take off this summer.

Updated: May 01, 2024, 12:53 PM