Employment Law: Don’t suffer in silence!

December 2013

Internet giant, Amazon, has been under a lot of scrutiny this year because of their working conditions for employees. As the Christmas season approaches, Amazon has taken on 15,000 extra staff. One of which was an undercover reporter who filmed footage for BBC’s Panorama programme, which you can watch on BBC iPlayer.  

Although Amazon claims “worker safety is a number one priority”, experts disagree. From the footage and evidence found in Amazon warehouses, employees of the e-retailer are likely to face an increase in mental and physical health risks.

The BBC programme shows an undercover reporter, 23 year-old Adam Littler, walk up to 11 miles during a ten-and-a-half-hour night shift; whilst only being paid £6.50 to £8.25 an hour. Whilst Amazon argues it has invested money into the UK and created thousands of permanent jobs, it is undecided whether this counteracts the treatment of their employees.

In the documentary, the undercover reporter demonstrated that for his job as a ‘picker’ he had to collect an order every 33 seconds in an 800,000 square foot warehouse. His hand-held scanner device gave him time limits of just seconds to find the product and if he made a mistake, the scanner beeped. The scanner also tracks performance and sends this information to management. If the employees are deemed to be underperforming, they could potentially have disciplinary action taken against them on a ‘three strike’ rule.

Whilst Amazon’s working practices have been brought to light by the media, there are many other smaller companies who also may not comply with lawful regulations when it comes to their employee’s rights.

If you feel you have a complaint against your employer, but are unsure of what to do about it, we can help you make sense of your next steps. Similarly, if you are an employer and are unsure of the regulations you should be following, we can give you the advice you need.

To find out more about how we can help please contact our Employment Law Department on 01296 318500.

Read the full story on Amazon's working practices on the BBC website here