News Sustain

MPs and couriers say food delivery work is not safe

Deliveroo riders say they are putting 'thousands of people' at risk of coronavirus, and workers are at risk of destitution, thanks to inadequate financial and medical protection.

Credit: IWGB Union

Credit: IWGB Union

TAKE ACTION - sign riders' petition to Deliveroo CEO

Nearly 50 MPs have backed a call by Deliveroo riders and the IWGB Union calling for enough sick pay to allow them to self-isolate, as well as adequate PPE and an end to dismissal during the pandemic.

In a letter to the company’s CEO Will Shu, the union and riders claim that a lack of proper protection means that riders are forced to work whilst sick or vulnerable, and “are being put at risk” and that Deliveroo’s actions counter “efforts to slow the spread of the virus”.

The IWGB has also launched a petition in support of its demands of Deliveroo:
•    Halt all dismissals of riders - known as “terminations” - until the crisis ends
•    Offer full pay to couriers that have to self-isolate because of Covid-19
•    Allow high-risk couriers to self-isolate for 12 weeks on full pay
•    Offer adequate PPE for all riders
•    Offer regular Covid-19 tests to all riders
•    Provide a minimum standards guarantee, including a guaranteed pay of at least the minimum wage plus costs, holiday pay and sick pay.

Deliveroo pays £100 per week to those off work with symptoms, but many found they were ineligible for the scheme and most are concerned that they cannot support themselves, let alone a family, on this amount.

Deliveroo was established in 2013 as an intermediary between restaurants and customers. Customers order food and pay via an app, and a Deliveroo courier delivers direct from the restaurant. Around 15,000 people work as self-employed Deliveroo couriers in the UK. They are classed as ‘independent contractors’, and therefore not subject to some employment rights including a guaranteed minimum wage or holiday pay. Couriers are paid either a flat hourly rate, or a fee per delivery. Deliveroo say their wages amount to around £10 per hour, but riders say that during COVID-19 their pay has been as low as £1 per hour.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Deliveroo have seen a fall in orders from restaurants and takeaways but have begun deliveries from cafes, grocery shops and supermarkets to help these businesses diversify their income and help sheilded people to access food.


Deliveroo courier and IWGB couriers and logistics branch secretary Greg Howard says:

"Deliveroo has built its business model on precarity and poverty pay. This has only been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic during which riders have been being unfairly terminated, paid far below the minimum wage and forced to work in unsafe conditions. As Deliveroo is increasingly delivering to vulnerable people, it is not only riders that are being put at risk through this questionable business model, but the public as a whole. This work is vital and it can be done safely, but only if Deliveroo invests in the safety and the rights of its riders."

Maxamad Goox, terminated Deliveroo courier and father of two in Birmingham, says:

“I was fired for taking too long on deliveries. They said I’d missed my chance to appeal because I missed their email. I work nights for sub-minimum wage, I don’t even have energy to play with my kids when I get home let alone check my emails. They didn’t even have the decency to try calling me. I felt sick when it happened, now all I can think about is how I can support my family. I was a key worker but Deliveroo never treated me like one. Deliveroo doesn’t even treat us like human beings.”

Deliveroo courier Sam (name changed for fear of reprisals), says:

“My wife is classed as high-risk and she is petrified because we have no protection, there’s no social distancing at Deliveroo. Every day she begs me not to go to work but if I don’t, we’ll be homeless. We have three children. We don’t want to risk their mother’s life but we don’t want them to be destitute, either. What am I supposed to do? Drivers and customers are dying because of Deliveroo’s failure to take action.”

Find out more about Sustain's work to tackle the causes of poverty (including low pay).

Sustain is also working with our members to address the hunger faced by a growing number of financially vulnerable people through COVID-19. Find out more



Published 18 May 2020

Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.

Latest related news

Credit: Sustain

Ask your MP to end the school food postcode lottery now

Take action

Support our charity

Donate to enhance the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet.


The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2023
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies