The project was sponsored by Deliveroo, which signed a legal contract with the SMF ensuring the think-tank’s complete independence over its work and report. The SMF is a charity overseen by a board of independent trustees, and their report key findings were:
1. Deliveroo riders are as happy as other members of the workforce. 74% of current Deliveroo riders say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their work, broadly in line with the 82% finding for the workforce as a whole. Deliveroo riders are more likely to have strong feelings about their work than other people. 34% of Deliveroo riders are “very satisfied” compared to 27% of the whole workforce. 12% of riders are “very dissatisfied” compared to 5% of the general workforce.
2. Riders choose Deliveroo in preference to other work. The majority came from employment, with only one in five unemployed, on furlough or looking for work before starting on the platform. Most believe they could have found other forms of work if they wanted. Only 12% did not think they could have found work without Deliveroo.
3. Riders prize flexibility more highly than people working in other sectors.
40% of Deliveroo riders put the ability to choose their hours in their top five criteria for choosing work, compared to 20% of the general workforce. 93% of Deliveroo riders and 72% of all gig workers are happy with the flexibility they have over work, compared to 65% of the general workforce.
4. Riders are motivated by money, just like the rest of the workforce. Most riders say they are satisfied with their earnings, and 57% believe that they earn more riding with Deliveroo than they could do in comparable work. 55% say they are satisfied or very satisfied with pay, compared to 53% for the workforce in general. 23% of riders say they are dissatisfied with their earnings, exactly the same as in the general workforce.
5. Riders favour their current legal status, recognising the trade-offs it entails. Most riders would be unwilling to sacrifice flexibility or earnings for more generous benefits. The vast majority (91%) do not want to become employees, though most would like to combine self-employment status with more benefits.
6. Riders can see Deliveroo as a primary source of income. While 60% of riders have other forms of work, nearly a quarter say over 70% of their income comes from riding with Deliveroo.
7. Riders see Deliveroo work as a long-term option. One in three current riders say they intend to still be riding with Deliveroo in five years’ time; one in five say they expect to be doing so in ten years.
James Kirkup, the Director of the SMF, said: “Some political narratives about the gig economy suggest that the people who work in it are unhappy and exploited and have no choice about how they earn a living, but this report shows that those narratives are at odds with the facts.
This report shows that Deliveroo riders, and gig workers in general, are as happy in their work as other workers. More important, they are aware of the trade-offs and consequences that flow from working in the gig economy – and they choose to do that work on the basis of that knowledge. They are not victims. They are economic actors making informed choices about how and where to use their time.”