Concerns have been raised over safety risks associated with ‘fatigued’ delivery drivers ahead of the busy Christmas period, starting with ‘Black Friday’ (25 Nov).
An article on the Guardian website says thousands of ‘exhausted’ drivers from the delivery firm Hermes are being urged to work up to 20 days in a row to cope with the rush of online orders.
The Labour MP Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions select committee, has asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate.
Mr Field asked the HSE ‘to ensure the company’s [Hermes] actions do not put the safety of its couriers as well as road users at risk’. The HSE said it was considering his request.
Hermes, whose customers include John Lewis and Next, told the Guardian that Sunday work is ‘completely optional’, but some of its couriers allege they feel under pressure to agree to do so.
Black Friday – when businesses lower prices to encourage buyers – takes place today (25 Nov), with experts predicting a record number of online sales.
One Hermes courier in the east Midlands, who already works six days a week, told the Guardian: “They are requiring us, if we can’t get cover, to do the Sundays because they threaten to take our rounds off us. I am very concerned about safety.
“Some of us work at night before we do our jobs for Hermes and a lot of us are shattered. We are making mistakes and we aren’t putting our seatbelts on because we are jumping in and out of the car all the time, or we forget to put the handbrake on.”
In a statement, Hermes said: “The average courier round takes up to six hours. As a result, we do not believe that if couriers choose to work on those Sundays there will be any safety risks.
“Any threats made to couriers by field managers suggesting work may be removed if they do not work or find cover are completely unacceptable, and not in line with our policies and company code of conduct.”