Deliveroo’s withdrawal from Australia last Wednesday, 16 November 2022, made public news when the fast-food delivery enterprise was placed into voluntary administration, effective immediately. The decision, which had been in planning for some time before the public announcement, left Deliveroo workers and riders blind-sighted without work. Leaving them vulnerable with no warning, without entitlements and with an uncertain future.
Deliveroo has been one of several on-demand food delivery companies that have leveraged and exploited legal loopholes within the gig economy to capitalise on the country’s most vulnerable and lowest-paid individuals.
In a cynical exercise, Deliveroo has offered that riders receive pay for two weeks, with a further two weeks provided if the deal proposed under the deed of company arrangement is supported. Despairingly, Deliveroo is seeking to base the figure upon which their rider’s weekly pay is based on average earnings over 12 months. Given what we know about the gig economy and the workers, very few have worked continuously over a consecutive period. The need for a more reasonable figure should be considered, with a submission based on the calculation for what earnings a Deliveroo Rider has potentially lost. Average earnings over two months as opposed to the proposed twelve months. Accounting for the irregular or inconsistent work hours due to demand for riders, market volatility and the potential earnings for workers enrolled in preparation and lead-up over the busy Christmas and New Year period.
Deliveroo has indicated its justification for its abrupt departure is due to the company’s inability to drive profit and sufficient market share in Australia. However, the decision coincides with recent reform and the sweeping changes predicted to be undertaken to tighten and regulate the gig economy. This begs the question: How much of Deliveroo’s decision to withdraw from the Australian market is due to the impending changes to Employment Law and the Gig Economy?