Employment status action against Amazon delivery firms

An announcement from the British Trade Union GMB has indicated that they will be taking legal action against three Amazon delivery companies. This action is over the classification of drivers as self-employed.

This case comes soon after the landmark judgement which was awarded over an action against Uber is 2016. The action is being taken on behalf of union members working for Prospect Commercials, Lloyds Bank Logistics, and Box Group.

All the claimants worked for the companies as couriers, their roles being to deliver packages on behalf of Amazon.

GMB will claim that the drivers should be classed as employees. The companies have used the ‘self-employment’ title to wrongly deny the workers’ rights such as minimum wages and holiday pay.

All the delivery drivers were required to work scheduled shifts which were laid out by Amazon. This meant that they did not have the flexibility which is integral to being classified as self-employed. GMB argues that in terms of working hours, the delivery drivers were treated as employees and therefore they should have the same rights as employees in the companies.

GMB is also making a claim against Amazon because the retail giant determined the hours the drivers should work. Several drivers were dismissed due to their whistleblowing. They were terminated for raising concerns about safe practice, and the large number of parcels which were allocated to drivers resulting in unsafe driving methods to meet the targets.

Allegations were made by the whistleblowers that drivers were not receiving the wages that they were entitled to.

GMB was told by one of the drivers that he had once left his home at 6am and arrived back at 11pm. Even after this long day his wages were deducted by £1 per every parcel he had not delivered.

Another driver reported to GMB that he had been told by his employer to finish his route and, in order to get paid, he had sometimes almost fallen asleep at the wheel.

General Secretary of GMB Tim Roache stated that companies like Amazon and their delivery companies simply cannot have things both ways. They cannot decide that they would like all the benefits of employees, and then refuse to give them the rights and pay rates that they are entitled to.

Jeremy Coy, from Russell-Cooke solicitors commented that there is a misconception about labelling employees as self-employed, paying them wages without deducting tax, and then suggesting that they have no rights as workers. The reality of the situation is that the nature of the relationship between the individual worker and the organisation is very important.

There are certain factors which must be considered when determining employment status. These include whether the person is obligated to do the work they are offered and if the company is required to provide them with work.

A further consideration is the amount of control which the company has over the individual worker. This is indicated by telling the worker when to work, where to work, and how to do the job.

Amazon commented that they expected delivery firms to pay drivers a minimum of £12 an hour. Both delivery companies and drivers were expected to ‘follow all applicable laws, driving regulations, and to drive safely.’


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