According to a new report by The Observer, drivers working for the online supermarket company are earning significantly under the National Minimum Wage. 

Ocado drivers are now allegedly being paid up to £5 an hour after the company brought in delivery partner Ryde earlier this year.

When directly employed by Ocado itself, the report states that drivers working for the company were guaranteed a wage of £14 an hour.

However, it has been reported that since Ryde became the new delivery partner of Ocado in June, earnings have fallen by between half (50 per cent) to 70 per cent.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, a union which represents the drivers, have stated they will be sending an open letter to the firm later this week.

Accusing Ocado of abandoning its predominantly ethnic minority workforce, the union has claimed that Ocado staff were an integral part of operation during the pandemic:

These drivers are key workers who risked their lives during the pandemic delivering vital supplies for Ocado but are now seeing their pay slashed by a company that has seen profits skyrocket.

However, a spokesperson for Ryde, the new delivery partner, has refuted these claims and argued it supplies workers with a better wage than the industry standard:

We put the welfare of our workforce at the heart of everything that we do. On average, workers on our platform earn 15 per cent to 20 per cent more than other gig economy businesses. We constantly champion improved conditions for them across the board.

In the report, the drivers have complained about key health and safety concerns such as back and knee pain, with one driver claiming he is forced to take painkillers every day due to the weight of each delivery which can reach 1000kg daily.

In addition, other complaints from staff have included the price of “smart clothes” which couriers were allegedly expected to pay out of pocket.

Recently, HMRC warned that in the UK, minimum wage breaches can occur when workers are being paid on or just above the minimum wage rate, and then have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.

Ultimately, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain has warned Ocado that if the company fails to enter into negotiations, it will begin a public campaign against the brand.

This news comes after the Ocado Group staff were recently informed that, for one month a year, they can now work remotely from any location which the brand hoped would give employees “a balance and choice”. However, this scheme is not applicable to Ocado retail employees.