“Bogus” self-employment saga sparks fresh legal move - 30th May 2018

Along with Brexit, the World Cup and Meghan’s mouthy relatives, it seems that the gig economy is never far from the headlines.

The latest development in this often bad-tempered tale is that the GMB union is taking legal action against three delivery firms used by retail giant Amazon.

The GMB wants its drivers to be paid the minimum wage as well as sick and holiday pay and to be given guaranteed hours. They are also calling for drivers to be classed as full-time employees rather than self-employed workers.

Amazon said its delivery providers were “contractually obligated” to pay drivers minimum wage but the union has hit back, claiming that drivers for the three firms were paid per parcel delivered and had to contend with issues that fully employed workers did not, despite performing similar duties. These include: lack of job security, responsibility for insurance and upkeep of their vehicles and no right to holiday or sick pay or overtime.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said many members who deliver packages for Amazon faced unrealistic targets, pay deductions if those targets were not met and “being told they’re self-employed without the freedom that affords.”

Amazon countered that its delivery firms were expected to pay drivers a minimum of £12 an hour, “follow all applicable laws and driving regulations and drive safely”.

The BBC website reported that over the past two years its own investigations have found that drivers for Amazon delivery agencies regularly worked “illegal” hours and received less than the minimum wage.

This case is the latest in a string of gig economy legal disputes. The GMB won a landmark judgment against Uber in 2016 and others, including Deliveroo, Addison Lee and CityLink, are all involved in ongoing legal action. It seems this particular employment saga still has some distance left to run and here at SW&A we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments.

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