An undercover investigation by the BBC has indicated that workers employed by an agency who deliver products for Amazon could be working illegal hours. Footage appears to show that, in order to meet the demands of the delivery schedule set by the global online retailer, drivers are unable to take comfort breaks. Further, it would appear that they are receiving less than the minimum wage. Some of the drivers working for AHC Services, who are contracted to carry out work for Amazon Logistics, have admitted to breaking the speed limit and not wearing a seatbelt because “the police won’t stop” a delivery driver. Others have said that they do not even have time for comfort breaks, and have had to “defecate in bags” and “urinate in bottles”.
The BBC stated that the drivers are not legally entitled to the national minimum wage, nor the national living wage, as they are required to be self-employed contractors by Amazon Logistics. Emma Harnett, a partner in Clarke Willmott’s employment team, has said “this potentially has the makings of ‘Uber 2’,” and “the legal implications of this story are wide and potentially very expensive for employers, not least in the run up to Christmas with shopping ordered online.”
An Amazon spokesperson said “our delivery providers are obligated to ensure that drivers do not spend more than 10 hours per day driving.” Additionally, the company stated that it is committed to ensuring all drivers drive safely and are fairly compensated for the work they do. However, some commentators are suggesting that the online seller could be called before Parliament to answer concerns about working conditions at the company.