Shifting back to a gig economy model, food delivery platform Just Eat has planned to shift to contractors. This move means the end of guaranteed minimum pay, holiday pay and other benefits like this for delivery couriers.
The company operated under the Scoober employment model which was first introduced in 2020. This employment model gave riders many rights that went beyond just minimum wage. However, those will be revoked and the affected employees will be given six weeks’ notice with pay. Thereafter, it is assumed that the company will begin their redundancy processes and potentially move staff to other parts of the business.
Back in 2020, Just Eat offered worker contracts to about 3000 couriers across the UK. Following that in 2021, Just Eat planned to offer more benefits to its couriers so they can move away from using independent contractors. The expansion was further explained by Just Eat boss, Jitse Groen, as an attempt to end the gig economy across Europe.
However, after taking fewer orders in 2022 in UK and Ireland which accounted for a £5 billion loss, the company seems to be going back on their previous statement. A spokesperson for the company said that Just Eat UK is trying to improve by simplifying the delivery operation. Hence, transitioning away from a “worker” model for couriers is a much-needed move. They also recognise that this move has impacted their couriers and employees, and dealing with that is their top priority.
Criticizing this move, the President of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), Alex Marshall, feels that their introduction to worker contracts seems “nothing more than a PR stunt”. Additionally, National Secretary of the GMB Union, Andy Prendergast, feels that laying off 1700 workers is a betrayal to people who have worked hard in the company.
Just Eat still plans on using the Scoober model in Europe and anticipate more openings in 2023. However, riders will most likely be classified as “self-employed” when working for Just Eat. In the bigger picture, this transition can be seen as a setback considering the issues workers have had with the gig-economy model. It is especially true in the case of companies like Uber who refused to offer basic rights to workers in the 2016 case.