Amazon faces worker status battle over ‘self-employed’ delivery drivers

Online retail giant Amazon has been targeted with a legal challenge over the worker status of its delivery drivers in the UK, it has emerged in recent days.

According to reports, the GMB Union will launch legal action against Amazon on behalf of workers contracting under three separate delivery firms used by the retailer.

The workers, who are classed as ‘self-employed’, argue that they have been wrongly classified and should be entitled to basic workers’ rights such as holiday pay, sick pay and the National Minimum Wage (NLW).

The case marks the latest in a long line of worker status challenges against other companies in the so-called gig economy, such as Uber and Deliveroo.

In this instance, Amazon has come under fire over the ways it treats its ‘self-employed’ delivery drivers, who are not deemed to be members of Amazon’s official workforce due to the fact they operate under three separate delivery companies.

However, a statement from the union claims: “The drivers were required to attend scheduled shifts that were controlled by Amazon, meaning they did not have the flexibility that is integral to being self-employed.

“In this situation, the couriers were treated like employees in terms of their working hours and the GMB Union contends they should be treated as employees in terms of their rights too.”

Interestingly, the comments come alongside further complaints from two delivery drivers who claim that they were dismissed from their roles for ‘whistleblowing’ after raising concerns about unfair working practices.

Specifically, most drivers have complained about excessive hours and workloads. While others have said that they have felt pressured to drive unsafely in order to meet their targets.

A report in The Guardian describes the case of one unnamed driver who claims he left the house at 6am for a shift, did not return until 11pm at night and later discovered that Amazon had deducted £1 from his pay for each undelivered parcel.

A spokesperson on behalf of GMB, said: “Companies like Amazon and their delivery companies can’t have it both ways – they can’t decide they want all of the benefits of having an employee, but refuse to give those employees the pay and rights they’re entitled to.”

In response, Amazon claims that the delivery providers it works with have signed contracts requiring them to pay the NMW and follow UK driving safety laws.

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Donna Martin

Donna Martin

Partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Donna Martin is a Partner in the Employment team at Mackrell Turner Garrett’s London office. She advises both employers and employees on a full range of contentious and non-contentious issues. As an employment law expert, Donna has significant experience in drafting employment contracts and handbooks, advising on grievance and disciplinary procedures and preparatory work prior to tribunals, including advising on the advantages and disadvantages of settling cases.