Deliveroo has tried to address criticism of how it treats its self-employed workers by offering them an income insurance policy that protects their pay if they get injured or fall ill.
The four-year-old fast-food delivery platform said that the policy, for which its scooter, motorbike and bicycle couriers would have to pay £1.85 a week, would provide cover when they suffered an injury while working for Deliveroo or when illness left them unable to work.
Deliveroo provides an online ordering platform and delivery service for branded restaurant chains including Nando’s, Pizza Express, Byron and Wagamama. It is regarded as one of Europe’s most promising private companies, but has attracted sustained criticism for contentious employment practices for its roughly 15,000 couriers in Britain.
It does not formally employ any of its “gig economy” labour force, instead paying them for each delivery they make, which has led to concerns among MPs and unions over a lack of job security and rights.
The business has said that it would be willing to pay basic sickness and injury benefits to couriers if UK law is changed. It claims that at present it cannot provide such benefits to drivers who at the same time enjoy the flexibility associated with self-employment.
If a courier is unable to work owing to illness or an accident that takes place when they are logged into the Deliveroo app, the insurance scheme will pay 75 per cent of their gross income for up to 26 weeks. This will be based on their average gross earnings from Deliveroo in the 12-month period before their injury or illness, Deliveroo said.
Dan Warne, Deliveroo’s managing director for UK and Ireland, said: ‘We would like to go further, but we are currently constrained by the law. We’re committed to providing the flexible work that riders want, alongside the security we believe they deserve.”
The illness and accident cover provides up to £2,500 in annual medical expenses cover; up to £2,000 for dental repair; 20 days jury service cover up to £700; and up to £200 if a courier’s mobile phone is damaged in an accident. The company also will offer a £2 million third-party liability insurance policy to its cyclists, which will cost £2.82 per month.
Last month, an employment tribunal ruled that Deliveroo riders were not entitled to basic employment rights, including the minimum wage, holiday pay and union recognition, because they were not technically classed as “workers”.