(Bloomberg) -- Just Eat Takeaway.com NV is cutting about 1,700 drivers in the UK, marking a shift toward the gig-worker business model that its chief executive officer once vowed to end.  

The company’s UK business will move toward using more self-employed drivers in an effort to become more efficient amid a slowdown in food-delivery app demand. “We have proposed to transition away from the worker model for couriers, which is a small part of our overall delivery operations,” Just Eat UK said in a statement Tuesday. 

The European food delivery firm has stood apart from its rivals Uber Technologies Inc. and Deliveroo Plc in that it pays its drivers hourly wages, sick leave, vacation and other benefits as part of what it calls the Scoober model. CEO Jitse Groen has long snubbed the gig-worker model of his peers that treats drivers as self-employed contractors, at times going as far as to openly question whether they were breaking laws in Europe with that system. 

Two years ago, he wrote a letter to Financial Times editors saying the use of independent contractors “has led to precarious working conditions across Europe, the worst seen in a hundred years.”

Just Eat said that, in order for its Scoober model to work, it needs a “level playing field.” The company noted on Tuesday that it will continue using the Scoober model in continental Europe. 

About 170 people who worked in operations will also be eliminated as part of the job cuts, the company said. The drivers impacted by the reductions will be offered six weeks of pay. 

Just Eat is among the food-delivery companies that experienced surging orders during the pandemic but have since grappled with a slowdown after restaurants reopened for in-person dining. The firm said the changes will not impact its service for partners or customers.

(Updates with more context around model in third paragraph)

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.