Deliveroo makes employees shareholders but riders miss out

Deliveroo RiderAU01Deliveroo has decided to make its permanent employees shareholders, giving them equity in the UK-based company that is valued at over $2.6 billion.

The move will see most of Deliveroo’s 2,000 staff employed in 12 markets across the globe, including 80 staff in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, receive equity, but not the 35,000 riders who deliver food to customers’ doorsteps.

Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu said in a statement to employees that he wanted all of the staff “to be owners” and that the share options were “his way of thanking staff at the company a way of making sure this truly is our company in every way”.

“Employees at Deliveroo have made the company what it is today, and what sets us apart is our immense hunger to win, strong focus and care and a clear vision for the future,” Shu said.

“Our phenomenal growth and success has been made possible thanks to the hard work, commitment and passion of the people who make this company what it is, and that deserves recognition which is why I want all employees to be owners in Deliveroo and to have a real stake in the company’s future as we expand and grow.”

When asked why riders were left out of the decision to give employees equity in the company, Deliveroo’s country manager for Australia, Levi Aron, told Inside Retail that riders were not included because they are not permanent employees.

“Riders are self-employed; able to choose themselves when, if and how much they work. They tell us this flexibility is the most important part of working with Deliveroo,” he said.

The announcement comes as food delivery riders protest what they describe as unfair wages, with riders presenting evidence to the Fair Work Commission in Sydney on Wednesday that they’re poorly paid, aren’t compensated when injured, don’t receive superannuation and can’t access unfair dismissal laws.

The Transport Workers Union has argued that companies like Deliveroo, Foodora and UberEats avoid paying their employees properly by treating them as contractors, even though they wear company uniforms and have set rosters and shifts.

Delivery companies insist riders are independent contractors as a way of denying them rights and protections,” union national secretary Tony Sheldon told AAP.

Deliveroo last week announced it will provide all riders with free insurance to protect them and their earnings if they’re involved in an accident.

Aron noted that this goes beyond what other companies in the on-demand economy are offering.

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