Food delivery workers paying up to 20% of income to ‘landlord’ account holders – The Irish Times
Some food delivery riders say they are being forced to hand over up to 20 per cent of their weekly earnings to “middle men” under account rental agreements that have become increasingly common in the sector.
Because of low pay and hazardous working conditions in food delivery, a significant portion of the workforce is made up of people on international student visas who rent accounts from people who can legally work as self-employed in Ireland, according to riders and their representatives.
One Dublin delivery cyclist told The Irish Times he paid 20 per cent of his weekly income to his account “landlord”, purportedly to cover tax, but he is “sure the person I rent [from] doesn’t pass it on to Revenue.
“Once I told him [the account owner] to give me the receipts from Revenue, because at the end of the year I could see if I could get something back. Then he messed up and never gave it to me. And what am I going to do? Say I won’t pay? Then there is no agreement, there is no work. We lose on all sides,” the Brazilian man said.
Another rider, who similarly wished to remain anonymous, said he was told to pay 20 per cent of his wages to the holder of his account, separate to a rental fee, after Revenue started issuing letters to account holders earlier this year.
“There are people who haven’t received any letter from Revenue and are charging these tax fees … They are taking advantage even more to make even more money off of us.
“We are the ones who suffer aggressions, assaults on the streets, we are the people who are traumatised and at constant risk on the street.”
He said he paid about €200 a week to work, between his account rental and tax, but this would be significantly more if he did not own his own bike, because he would have to rent one, which is something many other riders do for about €100 a week.
Fiachra Ó Luain, co-founder of the English Language Students Union of Ireland, who works closely with delivery riders, warned of widespread exploitation linked to falling payments from food delivery companies.
He said the minimum payment for delivery had dropped from €4.39 to €2.90 in 2021. “In more recent times we have seen jobs being offered for less than that, for in and around €1, €1.38, something like that, and it seems that they are testing the waters to see how low they can pay people,” Mr Ó Luain said.
A spokeswoman for Deliveroo said: “Riders in Ireland always earn at least the national minimum wage plus costs for time spent on orders while working with Deliveroo. In addition to this, we never pay less than €2.90 for a single delivery.”
In February 2023, Revenue sent letters to food delivery riders who are registered with companies such as Deliveroo asking them to file an income tax return and file any outstanding returns they may have, and to correct their tax affairs by registering for self-assessed income tax.
The letter further stated that Revenue do level one compliance interventions to help taxpayers in being voluntarily compliant, whereby they can “address any compliance matters through self-correction or by making an unprompted qualifying disclosure as appropriate”.
Deliveroo states that when working with a substitute it is the responsibility of the account holder to check if their substitute has a valid right to work in Ireland, and that stamp 2 visa holders – covering international students – are not eligible to work with Deliveroo, as a substitute or not.
“Failing to carry out right-to-work checks can be considered a criminal offence with sanctions of up to five years of imprisonment and a fine up to €250,000,” says Deliveroo.