In a meeting with representatives of Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat yesterday (14 November), Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick demanded stricter controls be implemented to end the practice of unchecked account sharing, known as ‘substitutions’.
Under the current model, the delivery companies make initial checks on those who want to work for them, ensuring their age and their legal right to work in Britain.
Once approved, those account holders have a legal right as self-employed workers to subcontract deliveries to a substitute who are not checked by the companies.
“Unchecked account sharing places the public at risk, enables - and therefore encourages - illegal migration, and leads to the exploitation of workers,” said Jenrick. “That’s why I’m calling on these companies to end the use of unverified substitution.
“We’re taking the action needed to safeguard the British public and prevent the scourge of illegal working. It is critical these companies work with us to achieve this.”
Immigration Enforcement teams have already ramped up action targeting illegal working in the food delivery sector, conducting over 250 enforcement visits and making over 380 arrests involving food delivery drivers so far this year.
Just Eat said it was working closely with the Government on the issue, adding that account holders were responsible for ensuring their substitute met the necessary standards.
“At Just Eat, we have high standards and a robust criteria in place for couriers delivering on our behalf,” a spokesperson said.
“This includes ensuring couriers are over the age of 18, carrying out basic criminal checks (DBS), and making sure they have the right to work in the UK.
“If we find that our high expectations are not met, we will immediately take action, including removing couriers from our network.”
This latest intervention from Government comes after an agreement was secured with the three businesses back in August to strengthen existing recruitment processes and improve awareness of illegal working in the UK.
“We take our responsibilities extremely seriously,” a Deliveroo spokesperson said.
“We have introduced facial recognition technology which will help to counter any abuse on the platform and, as outlined to the minister this morning, we plan to strengthen this. We will continue to work in close collaboration with the Home Office to support efforts in this area.”
An Uber Eats spokesperson said: “We understand that there are concerns around this issue, and we are working closely with the Government and want to find a solution.”