Takeaway giant Just Eat has promised to hire around 1,000 contracted couriers before the end of March as the delivery industry deals with accusations around gig economy workers.
Just Eat said the new workers would be entitled to hourly pay, minimum or living wage, pension contributions and holiday and sick pay, among other things.
Managing director for the UK Andrew Kenny said the company does not know what proportion of the 1,000 new workers will be on zero-hour contracts, and how many would be full or part time.
However, a spokesperson later confirmed that of those who have signed up since November 11 when the scheme launched in London, “a vast majority” are not on zero-hour contracts.
Mr Kenny told the PA news agency: “We have a strong philosophy in the business of making sure that the couriers are protected and have the benefits afforded to them.
“We are giving couriers the choice, we know that zero-hour contracts work for certain couriers, students for example.
“Nothing would make us happier than to see a significant number of couriers taking up the option of either full employment or part-time employment.”
The new system allows those on zero-hour contracts to have predictable, hourly pay, sick pay, holiday pay, pension contributions and parental leave.
They will also be provided an electric bike or scooter to use for deliveries.
Many companies that are heavily reliant on the gig economy have come under close scrutiny in recent years.
Critics say the model allows businesses to escape providing benefits such as sick pay or holiday entitlement to couriers, who are classed as self-employed contractors.
However, the system’s proponents say it offers workers the flexibility of being self-employed, allowing them to work when they want.
Many thousands more jobs will follow as part of the new model, Mr Kenny said.
Tens of thousands of people deliver food for Just Eat Takeaway.com, and have several different types of contract.
Sue Harris, GMB legal director, said: “This is a welcome acknowledgement by Just Eat that the gig’s up for delivery companies who seek to build empires on the backs of zero hours and zero rights employment.
“By levelling up to match their standards in other European countries, they’re doing the right thing and pointing an alternative path away from the race to the bottom that so many unscrupulous UK operators are pursuing in the so-called gig economy.
“Other delivery companies should take heed and take action to respect and protect their workers.”