South Asian riders

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for online food delivery services (such as Deliveroo and Foodpanda), creating new job opportunities for South Asian youths.


However, outbreaks of infected cases in districts populated by South Asians have spurred ‘racist’ remarks by customers, perhaps triggered by a flurry of negative mainstream news reports and social media outbursts targeted at South Asians. These behaviours reveal the added precariousness of ethnic minority employment.

Associate Professor Lisa LEUNG of the Department of Cultural Studies has conducted a study together with the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Workers-Kowloon concerning the difficulties faced by Hong Kong’s ethnic minority food delivery workers. 


About half of the ethnic minority interviewees claimed they have encountered ‘discrimination’. Facial expression that make deliverers feel unwelcome. Some who have regularly facing these acts (before working in delivery), felt trapped by the job into the web of discriminatory experience. 


Ethnic minority deliverers are more stressed over traffic related issues in the food delivery work (than Chinese delivery workers). Riders are especially sensitive of the issuing of traffic/parking problems. On top of the financial burden incurred, being involved in road safety issues would have a higher/heavier toll on the ethnic minority delivery workers’ well-being and livelihood. Rude/hurtful behaviour from restauranteurs or customers, or related issues, are the major source of stress and concern among ethnic minority food deliverers for non-Chinese deliverers. In a similar vein, ethnic minority delivery workers are much more likely to find language barrier a source of stress. 

South Asian riders

Ethnic minority food deliverers also complained about the company’s app settings, which exposes a general lack of concern and support from the company. There is no translation facilities for customer addresses. Even though the app is bilingual, the words in the space for customers to fill in cannot be easily understood by the ethnic minority delivery workers. Such information affects their performance assessment. The app also does not show clearly the deliverers’ pay, which might be related to a complicated payment calculation system. Deliverers are often confused over how much they earn per month. 


The researchers called on the government to educate the public on racial/ethno-sensitivity and to acknowledge the contributions ethnic minority residents make towards the economy and society.

South Asian riders