‘I got ambulance insurance for Christmas’
IT'S the job that asks applicants for little more than a bike, flexibility, a phone and a valid working permit.
It allows you to ride around the city, at a time that suits you, earning - on average - $30 to $40 per hour for delivering meals.
And that's the appeal that hooked Alison Millward, 24, when she decided to become a Deliveroo bike rider in 2015.
Balancing three jobs, she loved the outdoors, and the idea of spending her free afternoons cycling around Melbourne - while getting paid - was too good an opportunity to pass up.
"I always liked riding ... and it was something I could do around my other work," Ms Millward, who now runs her own production company, told news.com.au.
"The actual concept of the job was good, but the way it was structured by Deliveroo wasn't so great."
The model for Deliveroo is relatively simple, with the business making up a large portion of food delivery apps in Australia - and around the world.
Deliveroo has been in operation for around two years in Australia, and like Uber, the people who deliver the food aren't considered actual employees.
Instead, they are contractors who work for themselves - including buying their uniform, providing personal insurance as well as their own means of transport.
"Sub-contractors" sign up to the service and take part in an "on-board" induction program where they learn about "safety, customer service and food" as well as getting to know the brand.
They bring their bike, buy a uniform - and they're basically on the road as often or as little as they'd like.
But Ms Millward said her experience ahead of her first working shift wasn't so simple.
"There was basically no training for me," she claimed.
"We had one training session and that was to follow a rider around Melbourne. The guy I followed came off his bike, and his helmet came off ... so he wasn't even wearing it properly. "After that, he was like 'yep, you've done your training'.
"He ignored some road rules and even took me through a red light."
Ms Millward said she and other riders would often "take risks" in a bid to get food delivered on time.
"My parents got me insurance and an ambulance membership for Christmas," Ms Millward said.
"My brother was serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, I can't quite remember, but my mum was much more worried about my safety on the road here than my brother's overseas."
Ms Millward said she'd often be alone in the dark while waiting for food, and that she was let go via text message in mid-2016 for not accepting enough shifts.
"You'd often ride in places you wouldn't normally have chosen to go," she claimed.
"A lot of it was riding really fast in poor conditions ... like tram tracks in the pouring rain. You have food in your backpack and you have to get there quickly.
"There were also times when I felt alone in the dark. If someone came up to me I often thought what would I do.
"There were definite times I was concerned for my safety."
Co-Founder and CEO of Deliveroo, William Shu, who was in Australia this week to launch the company's new restaurant concept Deliveroo Editions, said rider wellbeing had been a concern in London - but that contractor safety was his biggest concern.
"[In] London there has been some really unfortunate incidents not just involving Deliveroo, but in the city in general involving Moped crime," Mr Shu told news.com.au.
"People stealing mopeds from each other, and also moped guys breaking into jewellery stores. "As part of that, riders have come to us and said 'hey, sometimes we don't feel safe going in to certain areas, sometimes we feel like people are looking out to steal our motorbikes'. So we have given out hundreds of helmet cams.
"But their belief and my belief is that having a camera will deter a lot of that stuff from happening, and if it does happen - police will have video evidence of it happening."
In the year to June, the City of Sydney received 10 official complaints about rider behaviour across all food delivery networks, including UberEats, Foodora and Deliveroo.
In October, the council called in representatives from major companies to combat the number of riders spotted flouting the law and endangering pedestrians by cycling on footpaths and riding on the wrong side of the road.
A City spokesman said it had recommended sending riders to a City cycling course which teaches road rules, skills and techniques to become a "safe, considerate rider".
In November, CCTV footage revealed a delivery cyclist travelling through one of Sydney's motorway tunnels - where speeds can get up to 80km/h.
"The rise of home delivery via bicycles has really caused a lot of this increase over the last few months, but we're definitely seeing it on a weekly basis," Kristine Cooney, NSW group general manager for toll operator, Transurban, told SBS News earlier this month.
Critics said many riders - who are often international students looking for part-time work they can do around study - don't know Australia road rules, and suggested cyclists are not being given adequate training for the job.
Deliveroo has come under scrutiny in the past six months about not giving their couriers minimum wage in the UK, or paying superannuation or sick leave in other locations, like Australia.
In London this month, nearly four dozen Deliveroo couriers took legal action against the food delivery firm in an attempt to obtain employment rights like a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay.
But last week, the Central Arbitration Committee, a body that resolves worker disputes, said the food delivery firm's riders were self-employed contractors as they had the right to allocate a substitute to do the work for them, according to The Guardian.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Tony Sheldon, the national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, said paying food delivery workers "per task" [which is how Deliveroo riders are paid in Australia] eroded labour rights such as minimum pay, maternity leave and the right to challenge unfair employers practices.
Maria Nawaz, a solicitor with the University of NSW's Kingsford Legal Centre, was critical of the work arrangements in an interview with told Fairfax
"Deliveroo and Foodora require riders to wear their uniforms, workers can't bargain with companies nor with customers over rates of pay per delivery," she said. "Most workers don't have existing businesses but are told to get ABNs in order to perform the work, and they don't provide skilled labour."
But Mr Shu said that changing contracts to include sick and holiday were at the top of Deliveroo's priority list, but needed to be done in a way that didn't impact flexibility for the riders.
"It is something we are really passionate about [sick pay and superannuation]," he said.
"Off course it's country by country because the laws are very different. But in the UK we have been working with the government to try and offer sick pay and to offer different benefits to riders but in a way that's preserving the flexibility of their work.
"The number one reason people sign up for this job is because they can sign up whenever they want. I strongly believe they should have benefits, but the issue is, is that the benefits have to approve a flexible working manner.
"What I don't want to happen is for it to completely change the working model so riders are deprived of flexibility."