Just Eat cuts its take for 30 days to help restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis

Natasha Lomas

U.K. takeout marketplace Just Eat has announced a 30-day emergency support package for restaurants on its platform to help them through disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis.

From tomorrow (March 20) until April 19 the package -- which Just Eat says is worth £10 million+ -- will see funds directed back to U.K. partner restaurants in the form of a commission rebate of one-third (33%) on all commissions paid to Just Eat by restaurants; and via the removal of commissions across all collection orders, which it intends to help reduce pressure on restaurants’ delivery operations, where collection is still available.

Just Eat also said it's waiving all sign-up fees for new restaurants joining its platform (which must still meet its standard conditions, such as being registered with the relevant local authority as a food business and having the required hygiene rating); and relaxing any existing arrangements that may be in place with partners to enable them to work with delivery aggregators -- "regardless of existing contractual terms."

It added that it will continue to pay restaurants weekly, including the rebate now in place.

Currently Just Eat has around 35,700 restaurants on its platform in the U.K., with delivery available to 95% of U.K. postcodes.

Commenting in a statement, Andrew Kenny, Just Eat's U.K. MD, said:

These are some of the most challenging times the restaurants we work with have ever been through. We want to show our support and help them to keep their doors open, so they can focus on doing what they do best -- delivering food to people across the UK every day. We know our Restaurant Partners are worried about their teams -- from chefs to delivery drivers -- and these measures will go some way to helping them maintain their operations and support their people.

The food delivery industry has a crucial role to play at this time of national crisis and it is only right that as the market leader in the UK Just Eat steps up to help our independent partners so they can keep delivering for the communities that need them.

In the U.K. and elsewhere there is rising concern about the economic impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector as people are told to stay away from social spaces.

On Monday the U.K. government advised people not to go to bars and restaurants or other social spaces in a bid to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although, unlike many other European countries, it has not yet issued strict quarantine measures such as ordering hospitality industry businesses to close their doors and citizens to work at home where possible.

On-demand food delivery remains one of the services that continues to operate even in locked down EU Member States. However, with gig economy business models not typically offering platform workers an employment safety net of benefits such as sick pay, the entire sector has come under fresh scrutiny for the legal status it assigns to delivery couriers, given the heightened risks posed to them by the novel coronavirus. In a nutshell, if they need to self isolate, they won't be able to earn. 

In its press release today Just Eat said it's working on other unspecified support initiatives for couriers, as well as for groups including the vulnerable and isolated, and frontline workers.

These will be announced in due course, it added. 

Although it also notes that the vast majority of orders placed through its network are delivered by restaurants with their own delivery capability. Its commission for such orders is a maximum of 14%, it added.

Some on-demand food delivery startups operating in Europe which do rely on gig workers to make deliveries have already announced emergency support funds to help platform workers who fall ill or need to self isolate during the COVID-19 crisis -- including U.K.-based Deliveroo and Spain's Glovo.

There has also been some criticism of how easy it is for couriers to access claimed support.