Imposter workers and illegal working within the delivery services

In the dynamic landscape of the gig economy, food delivery companies like Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats face the ongoing challenge of ensuring that their workforce is operating within the legal framework, especially when it comes to illegal working. 

The Home Office together with the three companies have agreed on an action plan to enhance security checks on their substitute workers, such as right to work checks, to prevent illegal working. The issue stems from the unregulated nature of the gig economy where some individuals without the right to work have been able to work for these companies by using other people’s accounts. The companies themselves have turned a blind eye, arguing that they have been complying with the legislation which applies to them. 

Right to work checks must be completed by employers of employees and workers; this does not extend to self-employed individuals. Back in November 2023, The Supreme Court ruled that Deliveroo drivers are self-employed. This is likely to apply to Just Eat and Uber Eats drivers. Despite this, the delivery companies have taken steps to carry out right to work checks on their drivers, and now intend to do the same to substitute drivers, to try and limit illegal working within the industry.  

Deliveroo has taken the lead in rectifying the issues by implementing a new substitute registration system, which will include an identity verification process which should ensure that only substitutes with right to work in the UK are able to undertake work. This proactive step not only aligns with government regulations but also sets a precedent for industry standards for other companies to follow.

Recommendations for companies facing similar issue 

  • An introduction of stringent in-app security checks will be pivotal to tackle this issue; advanced verification technologies can be deployed to ensure that only authorised individuals are accessing the platform.
  • Comprehensive right to work checks will also help with the issue, where checks on substitute workers are carried out on their first day of work by a line manager to ensure the correct person has turned up to work.
  • Educating riders about the legal implications of substitution and the importance of adhering to right to work checks can cultivate a more compliant user base.
  • Continuous collaboration with the government will be essential to adapt to emerging risks and ensure compliance with immigration laws.

While the challenges are significant, improvements may lie in a combination of technological innovation, regulatory compliance, and corporate responsibility. By taking these steps, companies can create a safer and more reliable service for their customers, and a fairer and more secure working environment for their riders. The commitment shown by these companies to tackle illegal working is a positive stride towards a more regulated gig economy.

If you have any questions on how your business can ensure right to work compliance and prevent illegal working, or wish to be kept up to date with immigration news, contact our Immigration Team or sign up to our mailing list.

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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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