Time to deliver for takeaway cyclists

27th December 2020 - Mary Seery-Kearney

CYCLISTS and delivery workers for Deliveroo and Just Eat need to be made direct employees with guaranteed minimum working hours to ensure they have more certainty and entitlements, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Mary Seery-Kearney, based in Dublin South Central, has called for more protections for young workers in the so-called gig economy.

“While food delivery cyclists have been a feature on our city’s roads for the last number of years, they became a lifeline for many during lockdown and at various stages of Covid restrictions.

“Cyclists for Deliveroo and Just Eat became essential workers, providing round the clock takeaway meals for people confined to their homes or locality.

“The companies who they are working for must do more to recognise the invaluable work they have done for many years but especially during the pandemic,” Senator Seery-Kearney said.

Deliveroo fleet of cyclists are deemed to be self-employed individual contractors, rather than employees with guaranteed hours and full entitlements.

“It is important to note that the cyclists who cycle in every manner of weather and traffic conditions to provide us with that tasty curry or that appetizing burrito aren’t even earning a fixed wage.

“Like all workers in the gig economy, they are classified as self-employed and are paid per delivery, which can be as little as €3 per drop.

“While this arrangement lends itself to flexibility, which can be particularly attractive for students, it could also be deemed as exploitative.

“They are delivery personnel, without them the companies that engage them would not exist, yet they argue that they are not employees and so the companies don’t have to worry about the entitlements of the people working for them.

“There is a significant element of risk involved in cycling in city traffic – under time pressure – especially during rush hour and in inclement weather. This system of remuneration of considering them self-employed and paid only per drop lends itself to taking shortcuts in safeguarding themselves in traffic in order to earn sufficient income during their shift.

“I was shocked to hear that as well as the usual hazards, these delivery cyclists also spoke earlier this year of how they often face anti-social behaviour when delivering meals.

“This is completely unacceptable, and we must do more to ensure these workers are adequately protected and entitled to a fair wage,” Senator Seery-Kearney said.

“It is not unreasonable they would be considered as direct employees and not self-employed if we were to apply the reasoning of the uber decision made by the courts in London which found that taxi drivers were employees.

“In the UK this month, Just Eat have said they will put their delivery drivers on hourly wages instead of having to compete for delivery jobs. They need to follow suit here in Ireland with guaranteed minimum working hours.”

“It is time the companies making large sales, literally on the back of these delivery workers, gave them full employment and the protections they deserve,” she said.

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