Food delivery giants have been urged to reform policies which allow riders to lend their accounts to others amid reports of children being able to work for them.
Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats couriers have self-employed status and can therefore get others to deliver for them, but are responsible for checking they are legally allowed to work.
This reportedly enables children to work as delivery riders, despite 18 being the minimum age, as “substitute” couriers are not verified by the apps.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who is chairing a meeting with representatives of the three firms on Tuesday morning, said the policy of substitution was “perpetuating and enabling illegal working in our country”.
The BBC found social media users selling or renting their accounts online, and reported that a 17-year-old boy died while working as a Deliveroo rider.
Mr Jenrick told the BBC: “This is not a victimless activity, we’ve seen a young person die when he was doing a job that he shouldn’t have been doing.”
He called for reforms so that substitute riders would also be verified by the apps, not by the account holder.
All three apps said riders must pass background checks and have the right to work in the UK, adding they remove couriers who cannot lawfully do so.
A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “We take our responsibilities extremely seriously. We have introduced facial recognition technology and we continue to work in close collaboration with the relevant authorities to support their efforts in this area.”
An Uber Eats spokesperson said: “We understand that there are concerns around this issue, and we are working closely with the Government and want to find a solution.”
A Just Eat spokesperson said: “We have high standards and a robust criteria in place for couriers delivering on behalf of Just Eat.”
Press Association – Ted Hennessey