Government calls delivery apps Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Just Eat to round table discussion over issue of illegal account sharing
The government has told the three main food delivery apps in the UK to tighten controls on account sharing to combat their use by illegal workers or underage people.
“Unchecked account sharing places the public at risk, enables – and therefore encourages – illegal migration, and leads to the exploitation of workers,” said immigration minister Robert Jenrick in a statement on Tuesday.
It said it had begun investigating the issue and had made 380 arrests so far this year of delivery drivers who did not have the right to work in the UK.
Delivery companies conduct background checks on riders when they initially sign up, during which they must verify their age, that they have no convictions and that they have the legal right to work in the UK.
But because they are designated as self-employed, the riders have the legal right to allow their account to be used by another person, known as “substitution”.
The apps do not verify the substitutes, with this being the responsibility of the account holder.
The BBC reported finding social media accounts renting out or selling accounts from delivery firms, with some of those offering the accounts appearing willing to hire underage workers.
It reported the case of a child named Leo who worked for two years as a Deliveroo rider, from the age of 15 to 17, before being killed while riding a borrowed motorbike.
Leo’s stepfather, Patrick, said: “No one’s accountable, they just take the money. It’s not right.”
“This is not a victimless activity, we’ve seen a young person die when he was doing a job that he shouldn’t have been doing,” Home Office minister Robert Jenrick told the BBC.
He said he wanted substitute riders to be verified in the same way as account holders.
Deliveroo said it has a “zero-tolerance approach” toward ineligible riders.
Just Eat said in a statement, “We have high standards and a robust criteria in place for couriers,” but added that riders are self-employed and have the legal right to use a substitute.
“Legally the courier account-holder is responsible for ensuring their substitute meets the necessary standards to deliver on our network,” the company stated.
Uber Eats said it was “working closely with the government” and wanted to find a solution.