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Deliveroo: UAE labour reforms will boost shared economy

More flexibility to work for multiple employers will benefit both labour, corporates, according to London-based food delivery service

Image Credit: Bloomberg
The Deliveroo booth at a summit in Dublin, Ireland. Deliveroo’s general manager for GCC says that the company has seen strong demand.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Deliveroo, the London-based food delivery service, added its voice to those who are calling for reforms in labour regulations in the UAE to allow for more flexibility for non-citizens in working for multiple employers.

Anis Harb, Deliveroo’s general manager for GCC, told Gulf News that permitting employees to work for multiple on-demand service providers would benefit both the labour and employers.

As matters stand, foreign workers in the UAE and broader GCC region may only work for the employer sponsoring their visa. Workers who opt for self-employment or being freelancers for multiple firms can apply for registration at a free-zone.

Having such labour reforms, however, would particularly benefit companies working under the “sharing economy” umbrella such as Deliveroo, Uber, Careem, and Lyft, among others where a flexible work environment is key in attracting employees. This is of even more significance now as shared economy concepts gain more traction among the world, and carve themselves a growing slice of market share in the UAE.

“Outside of Dubai, [Deliveroo] is completely a shared economy system; drivers apply for roles, they’re accepted for shifts, and they get paid per hour or per job. In Dubai, due to regulations, we’re more limited in what we can do as a shared economy, so we work with full-timers and we work with agencies all to make sure we have the right level of supply while maintaining the flexibility that we need,” Harb said.

Lax rules

He said that while Deliveroo has not had any talks with regulators and doesn’t plan on having any, the company would certainly welcome more lax rules about the shared economy.

“Right now at Deliveroo, if [employees] are working full time, there are only certain times of the day when you can order food, so there’s a lot of wastage. If that person were able to go work somewhere else, then that would be an ideal scenario for us and for the labour,” Harb said.

His comments echo a similar sentiment voiced by Magnus Olsson, co-founder of Careem, a car-booking service company, who earlier this year said there was need for GCC governments to reform labour regulations to allow for more flexibility.

Expansion plans

In an interview, Deliveroo’s Harb also discussed the company’s performance since it opened in Dubai in December 2015, saying that revenues have seen a 25 per cent month-on-month increase, with strong demand. He declined to disclose the company’s revenue, though.

While Deliveroo’s services in the GCC are now only available in Dubai, Harb said the company is closely eyeing a launch in Abu Dhabi. It is also planning to grow its services in Dubai by spanning more areas in the emirate.

“The opportunity in Dubai is huge … We’re reviewing and researching all the opportunities in the GCC. We think the GCC is an attractive market; the demographics and the city layouts suit our model, so we’ll continue to look at it,” Harb said.

Last week, Deliveroo announced it raised $275 million (Dh1.09 million) from various investors that include Bridgepoint, DST Global, General Catalyst, and Greenoaks Capital.