Just Eat is laying off 1,700 couriers in the UK as it ditches its ‘worker model’ in favour of the gig economy.
Around 170 head office staff responsible for rider employment operations are also being made redundant as part of the company’s efficiency drive.
The courier business launched its ‘Scoober’ worker model of employment – giving workers guaranteed minimum pay, pension contributions, sick pay and holiday pay – in 2020. The company also provided them with electric bikes and mopeds.
Shortly after its launch, in an opinion piece in the Financial Times, Just Eat Takeaway.com CEO Jitse Groen said the gig-working model of rival food delivery apps had “led to precarious working conditions across Europe, the worst seen in a hundred years”.
The Scoober model had been live in six UK cities, though it had been understood to account for a low single-digit percentage of Just Eat UK’s overall delivery operations.
“Just Eat UK is reorganising and simplifying its delivery operation as part of the ongoing goal of improving efficiency,” a Just Eat Takeaway.com spokeswoman said.
“As part of this process we have proposed to transition away from the worker model for couriers, which is a small part of our overall delivery operations. There will be no impact to the service provided to partners and customers.”
Despite ditching the model in the UK, the company said it remained committed to the Scoober employment model and planned to roll it out more widely in Continental Europe this year.
The affected riders were given six weeks’ notice with pay.
“After years of the gig economy dominating the food delivery sector, stripping riders of rights and reducing pay to a bare minimum, many of our members welcomed the introduction of the Scoober model,” said Alex Marshall, president of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.
“Finally riders would have certainty about getting enough work to make ends meet, the opportunity to take sick days and holidays, and a security that couriers were sorely missing,” he added.
Marshall said the ditching of the model and the way it had been handled was “appalling”.
“But it is typical of the negligence and cruelty that these companies have towards the riders who make their business run. Right now they are being thrown to the wayside as if they are expendable,” Marshall said.
In its full year results released earlier this month Just Eat Takeaway reported a 10% fall in UK orders from 2021 to 2022, with a 1% drop in gross transactional value.