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Scrooge lives on in the gig economy

The spirit of Scrooge lives on as many employers in the gig economy continue to deny their workers’ fair pay.

Posted on 08 December 2022

Nearly two centuries after A Christmas Carol was published, the spirit of Scrooge lives on as many employers in the gig economy continue to deny their workers’ fair pay. However, unlike the well-known literary character, these employers fail to see the error of their ways. Here, Michael Newman, a partner in the employment team, reflects on the hardships caused by not receiving the national minimum wage and holiday pay.

At the beginning of the year, Leigh Day conducted a survey of gig economy workers to get a better insight into what it's like to be a courier over the festive period. Over half (52%) of the respondents said the money they earn working in the gig economy doesn’t cover the cost of living.

One former Amazon delivery driver told us “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.” Hearing client experiences like this is upsetting, but sadly, not uncommon.

As we come to the end of 2022, while the cost-of-living crisis has worsened, little has changed for the clients we represent in workers’ and employee rights claims. Companies like Amazon, Bolt, Addison Lee and BCA, which are worth multi millions, are still denying their workers’ rights such as holiday pay and the National Minimum Wage.

There is no better time than the festive period to demonstrate why our clients deserve additional rights. At a time when many of us are winding down and reflecting on the year gone by, the opposite is true for many workers in the gig economy. According to our survey of nearly 200 gig economy workers, 87% had worked without taking a break during the period between 26th November and December 24th 2021, 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.

Perhaps most shocking of all, 83% of workers told us that, during the festive period, they felt that the targets and/or conditions of their job puts themselves or others at risk of harm.

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.

Throughout 2022 Leigh Day has fought for gig economy workers, and we will continue to do so while there are still unfair systems in place. We’re not looking for a Christmas miracle, we simply need gig economy employers to do what is right.

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Amazon Courier
Gig Economy Stuart Couriers Amazon Employment law

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, say the money they earn as a delivery driver or courier doesn’t cover the cost of living.

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