Just Eat is pressing ahead with plans to end the company’s reliance on gig workers by offering couriers the opportunity to join its ‘agency worker’ model in Liverpool.
Last year, parent company Just Eat Takeaway.com said it planned to stop using gig workers across Europe in favour of workers who get benefits and workplace protections.
It has since launched an “agency worker” model in 150 European cities including in London and Birmingham, which offers riders rights including the national minimum wage, sick pay, holiday pay and pension contributions.
Almost 2,000 riders have signed up to the new model in other UK cities, with the expansion into Liverpool expected to create 1,500 roles.
Just Eat UK managing director Andrew Kenny said: “We recognise our responsibility to provide couriers with the best possible opportunities and we’re delighted that almost 2,000 jobs have already been created as part of our worker model. We’ve reached this milestone significantly ahead of schedule and following a positive response in London and Birmingham, we’re excited to roll this out to Liverpool.
“We believe giving couriers access to the benefits and security associated with a model like this is the right thing to do and we’re hugely ambitious to grow this further out across the UK.”
The agency workers will receive training, branded clothing, insurance cover and e-bikes or e-mopeds, and can choose to operate from a central “hub” which they can also use to take breaks.
The workers can no longer work for several other apps at the same time as delivering for Just Eat.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain said the change was a “step in the right direction”, but not enough to offer a “sustainable job that people can build a life around”.
Organisations that operate in the “gig economy” have come under pressure to improve the working conditions and rights of those who work for them.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers are workers – a landmark judgment that will have significant ramifications for app-based business models. This means it now has to pay drivers the minimum wage and holiday pay.
Deliveroo riders recently staged a strike over working conditions and terms. They are demanding a living wage, safety protections and basic workers’ rights including holiday pay and sick pay.
Martin Chitty, an employment partner at law firm Gowling WLG, commented: “While there has been a recent competitive focus in this space to distinguish on the basis of revised employment rights, one wonders whether this represents some sort of recognition that the delivery sector has finally lost the argument, with Just Eat having now conceded the point.
“However, if the Court of Appeal upholds the CAC decision on Deliveroo then despite recent comment that the Uber decision is the only one you might ever need to read they might have jumped too soon.”