Amazon faces a £140m legal claim from delivery drivers who say they have been wrongly denied their workers’ rights and thousands of pounds in pay.
Law firm Leigh Day is launching a claim against the company, saying it says has incorrectly classified drivers as self-employed, denying them holiday pay and the national minimum wage.
If successful, at least 3,000 drivers could be due around £10,500 each in compensation, Leigh Day said. That would mean a bill of £140m for Amazon.
Leigh Day argues that drivers are entitled to these rights because of the way Amazon dictates how they work. For example, drivers are given estimated travel times between deliveries via an app which they have to meet.
They are also not able to bring parcels back to the depot so must use extra fuel to redeliver at the end of the day.
This, combined with charges for van rental, fuel, and insurance can leave them with “very little” earnings, Leigh Day said.
Kate Robinson of Leigh Day 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.”
It is the latest legal case seeking to assert the rights of gig economy workers. Following a Supreme Court judgment earlier this year, Uber began paying compensation to thousands of drivers it had wrongly classified as independent contractors.
Cab drivers for Addison Lee are also in line for payouts after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision that they were entitled to the minimum wage from the time they logged on as ready to take passengers to the time they logged off.
Leigh Day is currently representing two drivers and is looking for others to join the legal action. At least 31 drivers contacted the firm on Wednesday, a spokesperson told The Independent.
Drivers told Leigh Day that they are given estimated timings between deliveries via an app, which they have to meet, and are not able to bring parcels back to the depot so must use extra fuel to redeliver at the end of the day.
When combined with charges for van rental, fuel, and insurance, this can leave them with meagre earnings, the law firm said.
Amazon disputed many of the claims, arguing that drivers are paid at least £120 per day and receive compensation for their fuel costs, are not contracted directly by Amazon, and have the option of whether or not to follow the suggested route on its app, which does provide estimated timings for journeys.
“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,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
“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.”