- UK law firm Leigh Day is filing an employee-rights claim against Amazon on behalf of drivers.
- The drivers are not technically Amazon employees, but the firm says they should have employee rights.
- Amazon could owe each driver £10,500 ($US14,300 ($AU19,446)) in compensation per working year, Leigh Day said.
A law firm in the UK says it has filed an employee rights claim on behalf of Amazon’s fleet of delivery drivers, and that 3,000 drivers could each be owed on average £10,500 ($US14,300 ($AU19,446)) in compensation for each year they’ve delivered for the company, as first reported by the BBC.
Law firm Leigh Day announced it had filed the claim on Wednesday. Most Amazon drivers work for “Delivery Service Partners” (DSPs), meaning they are contracted workers, rather than being direct employees of Amazon.
The law firm argues drivers should be entitled to employee rights, given the amount of control Amazon exerts over them. It said Amazon could owe its UK drivers as much as £140 million ($US191 ($AU260) million) in total compensation.
“That figure includes calculations of shortfalls of the national minimum wage … one of the issues that drivers encounter is that they have a lot of expenses in connection with their work,” Leigh Day solicitor Kate Robinson told Insider.
Robinson said drivers rent vans, are charged large amounts for minor vehicle damage, and have to spend lots of money on fuel – all of which affects take-home pay. She said the £140 million ($US191 ($AU260) million) calculation also took into account lack of holiday pay and employment contracts.
Robinson said the money drivers get for fuel “is often not sufficient to cover actual fuel costs, as drivers are expected to reattempt deliveries multiple times.”
Amazon told Insider that drivers receive money for fuel according to mileage calculations by the British motoring association the AA, plus up to 10% as a buffer for unforeseen events such as redeliveries.
In response to Leigh Day’s announcement, an Amazon spokesperson told Insider: “We’re hugely proud of the drivers who work with our partners across the country, getting our customers what they want, when they want, wherever they are.
“We are committed to ensuring these drivers are fairly compensated by the delivery companies they work with and are treated with respect, and this is reflected by the positive feedback we hear from drivers every day,” they said.
On Amazon exerting control over drivers, Leigh Day said it heard from drivers who said they were given estimated timings for deliveries via a routing app. Amazon’s spokesperson denied this, and said Amazon’s routing app was purely for guidance, so drivers don’t have to obey it.
A Leigh Day spokesperson said the firm had filed one claim on behalf of an Amazon driver, and was due to file a second claim for another driver imminently. Robinson said the firm is pursuing a group action, which would mean more drivers could join the case.
In its press release, Leigh Day quoted an anonymous Amazon driver who told the firm that after working 36 hours over four days, he received £2.74 ($US3.73 ($AU5)).
The UK national minimum wage for people aged over 23 is £8.91 per hour ($US12.14 ($AU17)).
An Amazon spokesperson said drivers were paid a minimum daily rate of £120 ($US164 ($AU223)) and that the company could investigate the driver’s claim if provided with details. If the claim was true, it would constitute a breach of contract with the DSP, they said.
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Robinson said there were similarities between the cases against Amazon and Uber, in that both were about people’s work being “misrepresented” by companies who say the workers are self-employed.