In an email to couriers obtained by Junkee yesterday, Uber Eats has signalled several significant changes to its courier pay structure, that could have wider-reaching effects on users.

When contacted by Broadsheet today, an Uber spokesperson told us “we’re updating the way delivery fares are calculated in order to better reflect the door-to-door service delivery partners provide.”

Uber Eats couriers are private contractors. This means they are not technically salaried employees of the company. The new pay structure means the minimum fee for couriers will go from $13.50 to $11.20, and that’s before Uber takes its cut. For bike couriers, as an example, there will be a 17 percent reduction in the minimum delivery fee to $8.78 per delivery.

To counter this reduction in base pay, Uber Eats is introducing “Boost”, a pricing structure similar to Uber’s “surge pricing”, wherein Uber pays couriers more in peak times or locations of demand for deliveries.

While Uber Eats’ previous pay structure encouraged many drivers onto the roads at different times of the day, the new structure, coupled with the promotion boost, will favour delivery in peak times.

Junkee’s Osman Faruqi investigated the issue at length, and suggests the changes could lead to an exodus of drivers towards Uber Eats’ competitors. He also posited that fewer drivers will have an incentive to deliver outside of mealtimes, which could lead to longer wait times for all users of the app.

Uber says it hasn't seen any adverse effects on the UberEats Has Changed How It Pays Couriers service since introducing the new fare structure, and hundreds of people are signing up to be courier-partners every week.

Similar changes to Uber Eats’ pay structure have been met by protests in other parts of the world, including London and Toronto.

In its statement to Broadsheet, Uber affirmed the goal “is to ensure that partnering with Uber – whether giving rides or making deliveries – continues to be the best way to earn good money on your own schedule.”

Recent protests, however, suggest an increasing difficulty for Uber Eats couriers to flexibly earn a decent wage.

This article was updated on March 3, 2017.