Report plays up Uber Eats worker benefits

·3-min read

Uber Eats generated almost 60,000 jobs during the coronavirus pandemic last year, with the average delivery driver earning more than $20 an hour after costs.

The claim, which is disputed by unions, is according to a report commissioned by the global digital economy company, Uber, to look at its Australian arm.

The Accenture report, released late on Monday, plays up the flexible work benefits of the food home delivery operation accessed by consumers through the Uber Eats app.

"As dining at restaurants no longer become an option (during the pandemic) consumer spending on food delivery services was quick to take its place," the research found.

"Consumer spending on food delivery is now three times more than before the pandemic started.

"During this time, spending at restaurants has also returned to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that delivery platforms are here to stay."

Last year, Uber Eats generated 59,000 jobs - more than eight times the number available when the operation began in Australia in 2016, the report said.

Many went to "individuals who may have otherwise struggled to access work" because of visa restrictions, limited skills or experience and limited fluency in English.

Some 77 per cent of these workers were ineligible for federal government support during the pandemic, mainly due to their visa status.

Six in 10 delivery workers started the job to support themselves financially and nearly one in three increased their hours on delivery platforms during the pandemic.

After average hourly costs were deducted, the report found delivery workers earned an average take-home pay of $20.74 an hour if they used a car, $21.97 with a motorbike and $21.92 with a bicycle.

In Sydney, the average take-home pay was $21.55 an hour.

According to the report, delivery workers value the flexibility and "autonomy of being their own boss".

Some "84 per cent of them indicated that flexibility was more important than an hourly wage, while another 84 per cent valued flexibility more than other employment benefits".

Two thirds of workers surveyed were happy with their pay.

However the Transport Workers' Union says the report commissioned by Uber Eats is rubbish.

"The TWU stands by its own survey showing food delivery workers earn almost half the minimum wage after expenses ($10.42 per hour)," TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.

"If, as Uber claims, its workforce is earning more than the minimum wage, it should have no problem providing an iron-clad, legally enforceable commitment to paying that amount to every worker for every hour worked."

It won't, and at least five delivery riders have paid for the reckless practices of gig economy companies with their lives in the past year, he said.

The 'Making Delivery Work for Everyone' report also found Uber Eats workers want more dependable earnings.

They also believe customer support for delivery drivers and responsiveness to feedback on Uber Eats require improvement. Some 29 per cent said the current customer support experience was poor.

Accenture used Uber Eats and bespoke survey data - including 9389 Uber Eats workers - as well as publicly available data such as the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.