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Do Zomato and Other Food Delivery Giants Really Care About their Employees' Lives?

By: Angana Chakrabarti


Last Updated: December 17, 2018, 10:02 IST

Do Zomato and Other Food Delivery Giants Really Care About their Employees' Lives?

In most cases, the accidents involving delivery partners are a result of extreme pressures on the executives to accept all orders and deliver within a given period of time.

On 12th of December, at around midnight, 19-year-old Rishab Yadav* set out on his usual round of deliveries. Yadav is a delivery partner for the food delivery giant, Zomato. At around 3.40 am, as he was en route to a restaurant, his bike collided with a car. He was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where he was treated for his injured leg. Through this entire ordeal, Yadav made multiple attempts to reach out to the team leader he had been assigned at Zomato. His brother, who is also an employee at Zomato, posted pictures of his injury on a Whatsapp group that consists of other delivery executives and the team leader.

The team leader only responded three days later, apologizing for being unavailable.

Neither was Yadav assisted on his trips to the hospital and the police station where he went to file a statement the next day nor was he given any compensation.

When we reached out to Zomato for a comment on the incident, a spokesperson from the company said, "Our delivery partners are the face of our company. We care deeply about their well being and do not promote any policy that would put their lives at risk. We are currently in touch with the injured delivery partner and his family and are extending our financial as well as moral support through the recovery process."

But Yadav isn't buying it. “The people at Zomato, are timely about checks. If someone isn’t wearing the Zomato shirt or doesn’t have the Zomato bag they block his ID and cut some of his money. But, if we face any troubles they neither call us nor come to visit us,“ he angrily expressed.

Last week the Internet was up in arms over the firing of Madurai based Zomato employee who was filmed eating from a delivery packet. Acknowledging the employee’s “unprofessionalism,” Twitterati still went onto talk about the difficult working conditions that the delivery partners are often faced with. And they weren’t too far off the mark. According to another Zomato employee, Ram Prasad*, accidents are a daily occurrence. Just last month one of Prasad’s colleagues broke his arm. But, despite the high-risk nature of the job, compensation is a rarity. “They (Zomato) don’t really care about the minor injuries and only pay attention when it is serious. Even then there is no compensation,” he said.

Zomato spokesperson responded to a question News18 posed regarding its insurance policy and stated that they did provide support and “life insurance coverage”. “Considering the nature of the delivery business, we provide life insurance coverage to all our delivery partners. We also extend additional proactive support (financial and otherwise) to our delivery partners and their family members when required.” Their response, however, did not mention the conditions in which the executives can avail this “support”.

Delivery partners at Swiggy also face similar challenges. Just last week, a Swiggy executive in Kolkata, Sariful Shaikh sustained head injuries after his bike collided with another vehicle. But unlike Zomato, Swiggy has an official program under which the delivery partners are provided accident and medical insurance. News18 reached out to multiple delivery partners, all of who were aware of the policy but could not identify specific cases where it was implemented.

Ashok*, an executive working in South Delhi, explained that there was no way for them to find out about individual cases. “We do not know if an accident happens. We can only ask an executive once they get back from the job,” he said mentioning a company Whatsapp group that went defunct after all the delivery executives were arbitrarily removed from it. Ashok, however, confirmed that they were given safety training under the Swiggy program.

Companies, particularly in the private sector, are notorious for going to any extent to ensure that information about work-related incidences are contained and their workers remain segregated. In most cases, the accidents are a result of extreme pressures on the executives to accept all orders and deliver within a given period of time.

“We are told to deliver within half an hour,” said Ram Prasad*. Although he added that there were no such penalties for late deliveries, delivery platforms do give customers the option to either cancel or lodge a complaint in case of late deliveries. And a cancellation means that executives are often in the danger of losing out on incentives.

Executives at Zomato are given a monthly incentive of around Rs.4000 if they are able to carry out 400 deliveries given that they do not miss out on even one order and they are able to deliver them without a cancellation. “They do not understand our helplessness,” said Yadav. “In case a tire bursts or if there is an accident, we are told that we are lying," he added.

*Names have been changed to protect the employees' identity.