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Gig economy work doesn’t cover the cost of living according to half of delivery drivers and couriers

Over half (52%)* of gig economy workers delivering for Amazon and courier company Stuart, say the money they earn as a delivery driver or courier doesn’t cover the cost of living.

Posted on 30 January 2022

Speaking to Leigh Day, the law firm that conducted the survey, gig economy workers explained that they have looked for or moved to other jobs because working for Amazon costs more than it pays.

The survey found that four out of five drivers and couriers (83%) have felt that the targets and/or conditions of their job puts themselves or others at risk of harm and a similar percentage (81%) felt that their job has become more pressured since the pandemic.

Amazon drivers explained to the law firm how they are given estimated timings between deliveries via an app which they must meet.

According to the survey of nearly 200 drivers and couriers, 87% had worked without taking a break and two in five (40%) had worked more than 12 hours in a day. A third (33%) had worked more than six days in a row without a day off.

Leigh Day is bringing employee rights claims against Amazon on behalf of delivery drivers and currently represents more than 350 claimants.

The firm is bringing similar workers’ rights claims against Stuart, currently representing 225 couriers.

 Michael Newman, a solicitor in the employment team at Leigh Day, said:

 “This survey is yet more evidence as to why the way the gig economy operates must change. It is simply not right that so many workers are struggling to make ends meet.

“Leigh Day constantly hears from its clients about the hardships caused by not receiving the national minimum wage and holiday pay, and now we can see just how widespread the problem is.

“For many years, Leigh Day has fought for gig economy workers, and we will continue to do so while there are still unfair systems in place.”

Martin Buckley was a courier for Stuart in Gateshead for three years. He said:

 “You don’t get paid for how far you travel to the pickup location, just for the distance between there and the drop off location, so when you’re travelling around a city centre, you can end up losing money.

“In the end I stopped working for them because it was costing me so much and it wasn’t worth the stress. 

“You go to work to make a living and you end up paying out more than you earn. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Former Amazon delivery driver Bill Lightfoot, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said:

 “The work is horrendous because Amazon control everything you do. There were times I was out on delivery, and I’d stop for a few minutes, and they’d ring up and ask why I was parked up.

“The money I was earning wasn’t anywhere close to covering my rent and bills. In one week, I worked 36 hours over four days and I should have earned £464 but they gave me £2.74. It doesn’t sound believable but it’s true.

“I was very unhappy delivering for them. Effectively I was paying them to do their deliveries, rather than the other way around."