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Just Eat couriers fired by AI, report finds

Just Eat food delivery couriers have been thrown off the app for alleged overpayments as small as £1.35, according to a new report by campaign group Worker Info Exchange.

Eleven drivers made formal requests to Just Eat for the data about their cases, describing being instantly removed from the app with little explanation. 

Just Eat’s responses to these requests highlighted just two or three orders where the driver had allegedly wrongly recorded themselves as waiting for an order. This would have produced an average overpayment of £1.44 for the extra time recorded. 

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One driver had delivered 7,000 times without issues but was permanently deactivated from his account after two deliveries that resulted in a total of £3.45 in overpayments.  

Christina Colclough, founder of human rights and technology consultancy, Why Not Lab said employers using automated management systems (AMS) need to make sure they are respecting the law and operating transparently. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We need to demand by law that all AMS are inclusively and transparently governed, by employers (platform owners) and workers in cooperation. 

“This is vital to protect workers' fundamental rights, freedoms and autonomy and to prevent algorithmic manipulation with no meaningful human oversight.” 

Colclough said employers must be held accountable and regulated to avoid foul play. 

She said: “Employers must be held responsible and liable for the digital systems they are deploying. Mandatory inclusive governance must therefore be subject to regulatory oversight by the authorities.” 

The report comes after leading figures in technology including Steve Wozniac and Elon Musk wrote an open letter, warning that AI progress must be halted to avoid “profound risks to society and humanity".

Gosia Adamczyk, director of HR at advert platform Verve Group, said it is vital AI has human oversight. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We should never forget the human element of HR because the people are the most critical part of the role.  

“Our empathy, values, and willingness to go the extra mile to build fair workplaces, cannot be replaced by a blind search for efficiency.  

“Replacing people with AI systems, without challenging them, goes against the very idea of what HR is meant to be.”  

Adamczyk said while AI can have many benefits for businesses, the effects of their usage for individuals must be considered. 

She said: “HR professionals must continuously scrutinise their capabilities, use their critical thinking skills when analysing data, and ensure it supports the company’s objectives.  

“Terminating contracts may seem like a drop in the ocean for a big corporation, but for individuals, it can change their entire lives in a split second.  

“This is why people are needed; AI does not possess the vital human qualities needed to perform HR duties. People are too complex to be treated like numbers by an algorithm.”