Food delivery platform Just Eat has vowed to stop using gig workers in Europe, with its chief executive Jitse Groen saying he wants to employ people who get benefits and have workplace security.
Just Eat, whose rivals include Deliveroo and Uber Eats, recently bought US-based Grubhub for $7.3 billion (€6.1 billion) after completing a merger that confirmed it as Europe's largest online food ordering service and the biggest globally outside of China.
Takeaway bought Just Eat in January after a prolonged takeover fight, with final approval for the £5.9 billion (€6.5 billion) deal granted in April.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Groen who founded Takeaway.com in Holland in 2000, said the coronavirus pandemic had made him more considerate of the difficulties that gig workers face.
Gig workers are defined as individuals who are not employed directly by companies. They typically have more flexibility than regular employees, but don’t get the benefits that the latter enjoy such as holiday or sick pay.
“We’re a large multinational company with quite a lot of money and we want to insure our people,” Mr Groen told the BBC. “We want to be certain they do have benefits, that we do pay taxes on those workers.
“Just Eat’s core proposition is to connect customers with our restaurant partners, offering the widest possible choice. Just Eat is predominantly a marketplace which means in the majority of cases, the couriers who deliver customers’ food to the door are engaged or employed by independent restaurants. We use delivery to complement our core marketplace model, enabling us to give customers the greatest choice.”
When asked how this might impact its delivery workers in Ireland, a statement from Just Eat said: “In Ireland, we currently directly engage self-employed independent contractors to support our restaurant partners. Our approach is constantly under review and we will adapt and change to meet the needs of our restaurant partners, customers and our business while at all times ensuring that the couriers that support us are treated fairly and work safely.
“This includes exploring how the employment model which is already widely used by our merger partner, Takeaway.com, could work for our business here in Ireland.”
In Ireland, Just Eat has more than 2,600 restaurants active on the platform and the Just Eat app has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times.
Much of the success of food-delivery platforms has been built on using gig workers, and so Mr Groen’s comments will be viewed with interest. The conditions of such workers have come in for increased scrutiny during the pandemic, as many continued to work during lockdowns.
Just Eat Takeaway last week announced higher revenue and underlying profit for the first six months of the year, as the Covid-19 crisis led to a surge of online orders and restaurants flocking to its services.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) came in at €177 million, up from €76 million a year earlier as half-year revenue rose 44 per cent to €1.03 billion, though its net loss increased to €158 million from €27 million.