Amazon drivers found to be paid 'less than minimum wage'

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Drivers delivering parcels for Amazon have been forced to work long hours, go to the toilet in bags and exceed the speed limit in order to meet delivery targets, an investigation claims to have found.

The shocking claims were made by an undercover reporter for the BBC who was investigating AHC Services, one of the agencies that provides delivery drivers for the Amazon Logistics branch in the south of England.

Drivers were reportedly expected to deliver up to 200 packages every day, and the BBC journalist said that during a two-week period working at an Amazon depot in Bristol, he was subjected to working conditions that violate UK labour laws.

He worked in excess of 11 hours per day and was paid a flat rate of 110 for each completed delivery route. For his first week, he was paid 93.47 for three days of work. That's after the company took off several deductions including admin fees, vehicle hire and insurance, after which the BBC said his actual pay equated to 2.59 per hour.

For his second week, in which he worked four days, he received the equivalent of 4.76 per hour. He was also expected to be available for work six days a week.

Furthermore, an agency supervisor told him that "police won't stop" delivery drivers, so he "didn't have to worry" about a seatbelt. "Stop trying to do customer service," another supervisor told him while trying to help a customer locate a parcel. "You don't have to be nice."

One former supervisor told the BBC that she had to order one driver to stop after he fell asleep at the wheel, and that he could "end up killing someone".

Speeding was reportedly considered a necessary part of the job, and one driver admitted to doing 120mph on the motorway in order to meet his targets. Despite driving as fast as was legally permitted, the reporter said he was "considered very slow".

The time pressure was so intense that it left no time for toilet breaks, he said, and fellow drivers told him they were forced to urinate in bottles and defecate into bags in the back of the van in order to avoid falling behind schedule.

When contacted by the BBC, driver agency AHC Services said that the claims were "historic and based on isolated examples which occurred over a year ago".

"Since then we have made changes to the way our checks are carried out and taken a number of steps to improve our ways of working," the company added.

Drivers are free to choose their own hours, AHC said, adding that it took road safety and driver welfare "extremely seriously".

Amazon said in a statement: "We are committed to ensuring that the people contracted by our independent delivery providers are fairly compensated, treated with respect, follow all applicable laws and drive safely.

"As independent contractors of our delivery providers, drivers deliver at their own pace, take breaks at their discretion, and are able to choose the suggested route or develop their own.

"Our delivery providers have always been expected to pay more than the National Living Wage, and we recently clarified with all of our delivery providers that we expect drivers to receive a minimum of 12 per hour before bonuses, incentives and fuel reimbursements."

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.