Deliveroo informed the Irish government more than two years ago that it was aware of the strong interest among international students in working on its platform, even though legal regulations prohibited them from holding such accounts. The company emphasized the appeal of its flexible platform for English language students in Ireland on stamp two visas, according to correspondence revealed recently.
International students with stamp two visas are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and are prohibited from being self-employed. Despite this, they are reportedly a significant portion of the Irish food delivery workforce. Many of these students come from non-EEA countries such as Brazil.
In a letter dated March 10th, 2021, addressed to Leo Varadkar, the then tánaiste and minister for enterprise, Paddy Quinlan, the general manager of Deliveroo Ireland, stated, “It is increasingly clear that the law prohibiting Stamp 2 visa holders from being self-employed has presented a significant challenge for international students who would like to support their studies by earning income.”
Deliveroo has been actively lobbying the Irish government to relax employment legislation related to stamp two visa holders. This lobbying comes after reports emerged of account subletting to non-EEA students, with many riders paying fees to middlemen for account access.
A spokesperson from Deliveroo emphasized that all riders must have the right to work on a self-employed basis in Ireland to have an account with the platform. The company asserted that it takes this requirement seriously and has stringent checks and processes in place to ensure compliance.
Deliveroo has previously suggested that the Irish government consider amendments to the law to adapt to the evolving nature of work, prevent potential abuse of the current system, and enable more individuals to benefit from the flexibility of self-employed work.
The company argues that permitting stamp two visa holders to work as self-employed would protect them from exploitation, given their limited access to other forms of employment.
In its 2021 “charter for flexible and secure work,” Deliveroo defends its employment conditions, claiming they are well-suited for individuals with other commitments. The company states that approximately 50 percent of its riders are students, and 20 percent have caring responsibilities.
Records released by the Department of Enterprise reveal that Deliveroo and other platform companies met with government officials to advocate for changes to the proposed European Union directive on digital labor platforms. In a letter to then-minister of state Damien English in June 2022, representatives from Deliveroo and other digital platform firms argued that the EU proposals, including the presumption of employment, could jeopardize genuine self-employment.
Fiachra Ó Luain, co-founder of the English Language Students Union, expressed skepticism about Deliveroo’s intentions, suggesting that the company may be using misleading language to lawmakers and the public. He called for fair wages and proper treatment of workers rather than changes to facilitate precarious work.
Ó Luain also urged the new director-general of RTÉ, Kevin Bakhurst, to prohibit companies that don’t pay workers minimum wage from advertising or sponsoring programs on the national broadcaster.
The negotiations surrounding the EU platform work directive are ongoing, with stakeholders debating the classification of gig workers.