Following claims that Amazon drivers are working “illegal hours” and being paid less than the national minimum wage on the basis they are self-employed, it appears that this is another example of the stir the working patterns of the “gig economy” is having on business in this industry. 

When considering if the Amazon drivers should be protected as “workers” and granted workers’ rights, attention should be given to whether the agency who supply the drivers have a sufficient degree of control over the drivers working patterns.  

If the drivers do not have control over the days they work, the rest periods they take and are required to be available to work at times stipulated by the agency then it is likely that there will be a sufficient degree of mutuality of obligation to categorise the drivers as workers and be unlikely that the drivers will be deemed to be in business on their own account.

Workers have an entitlement under the Working Time Regulations to work no more than maximum working hours, to a daily rest period of uninterrupted rest and appropriate rest breaks during the working day – if the Amazon drivers can show their status as worker this could result in claims for failure to be granted each of these rights!    

The distinction between being a “worker” and “self-employed” is almost certainly going to cause a stir in the industry potentially starting a raft of claims for businesses that operate similar working patterns.

AHC, one of the suppliers of Amazon drivers suggest they are now “improving ways of working”. Given the potential issues that companies are now likely to face in the “gig economy”, it has become increasingly important that businesses are mindful they could face claims resulting in payment of substantial compensation for unpaid holiday and underpayment of minimum wage and as such should review their working practices.

The outcome of the Uber case which concerned the distinction between worker status and self-employment, may trigger an increase in people coming out of the woodwork over working practices in the “gig economy” and only time will tell how much impact the distinction between worker and self-employed status will have!