Amazon drivers launch legal battle over employee rights

Thousands of Amazon delivery drivers have launched a legal battle with the retailer for employee rights including holiday pay and being paid the minimum wage.

According to law firm Leigh Day, at least 3000 drivers could be entitled to an average of £10,500 compensation for each year of service.

Currently, the drivers making deliveries on behalf of Amazon are classed as self-employed, meaning they do not benefit from employees’ rights such as holiday pay, at least National Minimum Wage and an employment contract.

Leigh Day, which is bringing similar claims against Uber, Addison Lee, delivery company Stuart and used vehicle marketplace BCA, believes because of the way Amazon dictates drivers work and how they fit into Amazon’s business, “drivers are entitled to these rights”.

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Drivers who spoke to the law claim they are given estimated timings between deliveries via an app which they have to meet.

They also described how they are not able to bring parcels back to the depot so must use extra fuel to redeliver at the end of the day.

This combined with charges for van rental, fuel, and insurance can leave them with very little earnings, according to Leigh Day.

An Amazon spokesman told the BBC it was “committed to ensuring drivers were fairly paid by the delivery companies they work with”.

However, delivery driver Bill Lightfoot, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said: “The work is horrendous because Amazon controls everything you do.

“There were times I was out on delivery, and I’d stop for a few minutes, and they’d ring up and ask why I was parked up.

“The money I was earning wasn’t anywhere close to covering my rent and bills. In one week, I worked 36 hours over four days and I should have earned £464 but they gave me £2.74. It doesn’t sound believable but it’s true. ”

“I was very unhappy delivering for them. Effectively I was paying them to do their deliveries, rather than the other way around.”

“From what we have heard from our clients it appears that Amazon is short-changing drivers making deliveries on their behalf,” Leigh Day employment team solicitor said.

“This is disgraceful behaviour from a company that makes billions of pounds a year. Drivers delivering for Amazon have to work set shifts and book time off, yet Amazon claims they are self-employed.

“Paying out compensation of £140 million sounds like a large bill to foot, but for a company that turned a profit of £5.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, it’s a drop in the ocean. For drivers, on the other hand, earning at least National Minimum Wage, getting holiday pay and being under a proper employment contract could be life-changing.”

“It’s time for Amazon to stop putting profit above people and give delivery drivers the employment rights they deserve.”

Charged has contacted Amazon for further comment.

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