Deliveroo riders ordered to return part of ‘thank you’ bonus payment after technical glitch

Riders cashed out one-off IPO bonus payments, only to be told they had been overpaid and had to give some of it back

Ben Chapman@b_c_chapman
Wednesday 14 April 2021 23:30
<p>It is the latest incident to increase tension between Deliveroo and many of its riders</p>

It is the latest incident to increase tension between Deliveroo and many of its riders

Many Deliveroo riders have been left unable to access their earnings and told to pay back hundreds of pounds to the company after a technical glitch.

Deliveroo had promised riders payments of between £200 and £10,000 from a £16m fund to thank them for their hard work when the company listed its shares on the stock market earlier this month.

Some riders logged into the app on Tuesday to find they had been paid more than they expected while others received nothing. Some riders said they had withdrawn the bonus only to see the following day that their account with Deliveroo had been debited by £500 and in some cases more.

To prevent riders cashing out the overpaid bonus amounts, Deliveroo temporarily stopped all withdrawals, leaving riders without access to their earnings.

It is the latest incident to increase tension between Deliveroo and many of its riders. Hundreds of riders organised by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain went on strike last week to demand workers’ rights, a living wage and further safety protections.

Riders logged in to find that money had been debited from their Deliveroo earnings accounts due to overpayment

Steven Fleming, a Deliveroo rider from Liverpool, received a £1,000 thank you bonus in his account in Tuesday which he withdrew and used to repay debts. He has now been told to pay back £500 to the company.

“I assumed that £1,000 was the correct amount and I cashed it out into my bank account,” Mr Fleming said. “I’ve built up debts during the pandemic because my earnings through Deliveroo have fallen so much.

“They have hired too many riders for too little work so it’s been a very difficult time.

“It was a relief to have the extra money but now I’ve been told I’m in £500 debt to Deliveroo. We’ve had no communication from Deliveroo as to why this has happened which is pretty typical of how they operate.”

Mr Fleming, who was recently named one of Deliveroo’s riders of the year, said he felt “utterly down and disappointed” by the way the company had treated him. “One minute they’re lauding me and giving me an award for my efforts, now this.”

Steven Fleming, Deliveroo rider

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said the £16m thank you fund would be paid in full and that a technical error meant that a “small number” of riders were offered a higher payment than was intended.

“All riders eligible for the Thank You Fund will receive the amount they were intended to receive, which we are delighted to give. We have apologised to riders for this confusion,” the spokesperson said.

The technology glitch comes after Deliveroo flopped on its stock market debut earlier this month.

The company had sought a valuation as high as $8.8bn but cut that to $7.9bn before the initial public offering. Its share price plunged on the opening day and remains 30 per cent down.

Large investors had balked at the price tag and raised concerns about workers’ rights. Deliveroo riders are classed as independent contractors, an arrangement which the company says offers flexibility but which also means it does not pay holiday pay, pension contributions or a guaranteed minimum wage.

Alex Marshall, president of IWGB said: “This latest blunder by Deliveroo is part of a long list surrounding what has been described as the ‘worst IPO in London’s history and emphasises their incompetence.

“It is issues like these that lead to Deliveroo workers all over the UK taking strike action in a fight to end the poor working conditions they are subjected to.

“The writing is on the wall - Deliveroo should drop the failed PR stunts and give riders the workers’ rights they deserve”

Analysis of more than 300 riders’ pay details by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that a third were receiving less than the national minimum wage for an adult. The lowest-paid rider earned just £2 an hour.

Deliveroo is under increasing pressure to grant riders further rights after rival Just Eat took on 2,000 of its riders as employees.

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