Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats agree to tackle illegal working in UK

LONDON (Reuters) -Meal delivery companies Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats have committed to make extra security checks on their British riders, the government said, as it steps up efforts to make it harder for people to work illegally.

Workers in the gig economy are self employed and therefore have the right to substitute another rider to carry out jobs.

The government said a "small minority" of riders, who the companies check can work legally, have taken advantage of the system to avoid ensuring their substitutes had the same right to work in Britain.

In response to a freedom of information request submitted by Reuters last year, the government's interior ministry said 42% of riders stopped by an enforcement team over six days in April 2023 were found to be working illegally.

"Illegal working puts their customers at risk, drives down wages and defrauds the taxpayer," said illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson after he met on Monday the three companies that dominate the market.

"It is vital that we shut down any loophole that allows it to happen."

The companies had committed to now bring in "enhanced security checks", the government said.

Deliveroo is the first to roll out a new substitute registration feature, including right to work checks, earlier this month.

The ruling Conservatives, which are trailing the Labour Party in the polls ahead of an election expected later this year, are trying to win over voters with its tough stance on migration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks, deporting those who arrive without permission, and the government is also trying to make the UK less attractive to immigrants by stopping them from working illegally.

(Reporting by Muvija M and William Schomberg, writing by Sarah Young; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar and Paul Sandle)