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Frank Field MP: Deliveroo should pay riders the national living wage



Deliveroo courier

Sean Gallup/Getty

  • Deliveroo should pay its riders the UK national living
    wage of £7.83 ($10.27) an hour, according to a new report from
    Labour MP Frank Field.
  • The minimum guarantee would mean precarious “gig
    economy” workers, who fuel the growth of platforms like
    Deliveroo, would have a safety net.
  • Deliveroo has argued that guaranteeing riders a wage
    would compromise their flexibility, and might force the
    platform to charge more money for its service.
  • On Monday, the firm proposed a “charter” that would
    allow it to provide riders with more benefits — but not
    necessarily the national living wage.

Fast-growing food delivery startup Deliveroo should guarantee its
riders the national living wage of £7.83 ($10.27), according to a
damning report from Labour politician Frank Field.

Field found that Deliveroo paid some riders as little as £2 or £3
an hour, while others earned up to £20 an hour delivering
takeaway food to customers.

“Across the online food delivery sector of the ‘gig economy’ as a
whole, around 158,000 individuals report being paid less than the
National Living Wage,” Field wrote.

The lawmaker was strongly critical of Deliveroo’s model, which is
reliant on a “continued oversupply and underutilisation of
workers” to fuel its growth.

Deliveroo said Field’s proposal would “remove flexibility,” which
it said riders value. It also denied maintaining an oversupply of

Deliveroo is one of the fastest growing startups in the UK,

with a valuation of around £1.5 billion ($2 billion)
. The
company relies on “riders” on mopeds or bicycles to travel short
distances to pick up food from local restaurants then deliver it
to customers. These riders are not full-time employees, but “gig
economy” contractors who don’t qualify for the minimum wage or

Field, as chair of UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee,
has been examining ways to give this new breed of workers more

Frank Field
Frank Field MP.

He wrote that while some Deliveroo riders enjoyed the flexibility
of shifts and earning-per-delivery, others were reliant on riding
for their main income.

“The emergence of platforms like Deliveroo has opened up the
prospect of work to many people on the fringes of the labour
market who would otherwise struggle to find a job that fits their
circumstances. This represents a significant boost to the British
economy as well as our society,” Field wrote.

“[There] is a flipside: too many of these vulnerable workers have
nowhere else to turn if their pay and working conditions
deteriorate and their living standards begin to suffer. We call
on platforms to consider urgently what additional forms of
security they are able to offer such workers without asking them
to sacrifice the flexibility they currently have in fitting this
work around other commitments.”

A Deliveroo spokesman responded: “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.”

Deliveroo also tried to get out its own message ahead of the
publication of Field’s report.

On Monday, the company
made a call for a government-sanctioned “charter,”

potentially enshrined in law, that would allow it to offer
certain benefits to employees with risking their self-employed
status. Crucially, however, Deliveroo did not proactively suggest
paying its riders the national living wage.

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