Amazon could owe compensation totalling £140m to thousands of drivers delivering its parcels, according to a law firm that is launching a group claim on their behalf.
Drivers who deliver for Amazon through its “delivery service partners” are classed as self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to employee rights such as holiday pay and the minimum wage, while they also do not have an employment contract.
The law firm Leigh Day believes at least 3,000 drivers are affected, and could be entitled to an average of £10,500 in compensation for each year they have delivered for the online retail giant. It believes Amazon could owe drivers a total of £140m in compensation.
Leigh Day argues that the drivers’ work and how they fit into the business is dictated by Amazon, and as a result believes that they should have more rights.
Drivers described to the law firm how the app gives them estimated travel times between deliveries, which they have to meet. They are also not able to return parcels to the Amazon depot, so have to use extra fuel to redeliver them at the end of the day.
After paying vehicle rental and insurance, drivers say they are often left with meagre earnings.
Leigh Day said it had launched a group claim on behalf of two delivery drivers and was looking for more to join the legal action.
Kate Robinson, a solicitor in the employment team at the firm, said: “Amazon is short-changing drivers making deliveries on their behalf. 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 claim they are self-employed.
“For drivers, earning at least national minimum wage, getting holiday pay and being under a proper employment contract could be life changing.”
Amazon said it was committed to ensuring drivers were fairly compensated by the delivery companies they worked with.
It added: “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.”
Leigh Day brought and won a landmark employment rights case for Uber drivers who had demanded basic workers’ rights including minimum wage and paid holidays, which was expected to lead to better terms for millions of gig economy workers.
The legal firm represented more than 2,000 Uber drivers with claims linked to the case, who were victorious in February when the UK supreme court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a previous employment tribunal ruling.
Uber, like many other delivery and courier companies, had argued that its drivers were self-employed and not entitled to the rights enjoyed by workers.