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Legal insights & industry updates

| 1 minute read

Right-to-work checks to be introduced for substitute drivers of Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats


On 30 April 2024, the Home Office announced that Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats had confirmed their intentions to introduce right-to-work checks for substitute drivers. This decision followed discussions with Government Ministers regarding ways in which the food delivery companies could prevent the exploitation of account sharing by their drivers. While substitution - the practice whereby drivers appoint someone to work in their place - is a legitimate part of self-employment, the Government’s concern was that a small minority of drivers were taking advantage of the system to avoid completing right-to-work checks, leading to an increase in operations by Immigration Enforcement to prevent this.   

This is an interesting development because right-to-work checks are currently only required, as a matter of law, for employees. Following a Supreme Court decision last year, it was held that food delivery drivers for Deliveroo (and, likely, by extension Uber Eats and Just Eat) are classed as self-employed for several reasons including the fact that they can appoint someone to work in their place (i.e. substitute drivers). Although right-to-work checks are not necessary for those who are self-employed, they can be a useful safeguard against exploitation or any negative publicity which would come from being found to rely on illegal workers. 

While this agreement with the three major food delivery giants is an informal arrangement, it will be interesting to see if right-to-work checks for businesses which rely on self-employed individuals will be rolled out more widely or made compulsory in the future and whether businesses will eventually be subject to the same sanctions regime as is currently in place for employees.  On 13 February 2024, civil penalties for employing illegal workers rose from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach of the civil penalty regime, and from £20,000 to £60,000 for repeat breaches.

All 3 firms have now committed to changing their processes to confirm substitute riders have the right to work legally in the UK directly, with Deliveroo the first to roll out a new substitute registration feature, including right to work checks, earlier this month.