Food delivery firms must be responsible for deliverymen

Individuals who work for food delivery services are often at a disadvantage.

Such companies consider them to be contractors and so do not provide insurance or ensure their safety in the course of their delivery work.

They do not ensure the deliverymen use an appropriate mode of transport. This results in many of them riding unlicensed e-bikes on the roads, with no helmets on.

The deliverymen also have to decide for themselves if they should buy insurance for their work. More often than not, they do not do so because they do not want to incur the extra expense.

Such arrangements put other road users at risk too.

When an accident occurs, it is difficult to claim against a company, because it says the deliveryman is a contractor.

Trying to obtain the particulars of the deliveryman is tough, as companies cite the Personal Data Protection Act as a reason for non-disclosure.

Worse they ask a claimant to seek police enforcement for the release of the deliveryman's particulars, despite knowing well that the police will not do such a thing.

Seeking court orders will be costly, thereby deterring anyone from pursuing the matter further.

The claimant is sent on a wild goose chase and the company has no incentive to resolve the case.

I hope the Government will look at the current legislation and, perhaps, ensure that food delivery companies provide basic protection for these deliverymen who slog in all weather conditions.

Also, the deliverymen may be contractors, but by virtue of the fact that they are providing a service on behalf of a company, the company should be held responsible for their actions, based on the principle of vicarious liability.

Doo Chun Ki

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Food delivery firms must be responsible for deliverymen'. Print Edition | Subscribe