Some of the UK’s biggest retailers have recruited thousands of delivery drivers in order to keep up with demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tesco has recruited 4,000 new drivers in the past two months. Meanwhile, Amazon has sourced a reported 175,000 extra workers to cope with the surge in demand, as people are forced to stay at home and order goods online.
Many of the new delivery drivers recruited have never done the job before and are having to adjust quickly to their new ways of working. We’ve seen stories of pilots and even actors get behind the wheel and delivery essentials to people during the lockdown.
Game of Thrones actor Michael Condron, who revealed he has taken on a job with Asda as a delivery driver, said the work has “kept me mentally in a good place” and drew similarities to his day job: “The job means I can continue to have that interaction with people like I get in a theatre.”
But, just how are these retailers treating their new recruits? Given the speed at which they were rushed through their doors and into a delivery van, it’s crucial that safety measures are being adhered to.
Thumbs up for Amazon
We spoke to one Amazon delivery driver, who was recruited in April, to ask him how he feels he has been treated by the online retail giant throughout the pandemic.
Reassuringly, he told us that Amazon has put in “procedures and guides for all who go on site”, which has meant he’s had “minimal contact with people”.
We also pressed him on the matter of personal protective equipment (PPE), which has been a hot topic throughout the coronavirus crisis.
He replied: “I have received two different sorts of gloves to wear and get given a new face mask on every site I go to, along with disinfectant wipes and hand gel to use. I get new boots and hi-vis on request.”
In mid-March, Amazon said it was prioritising household staples and medical supplies over items deemed “non-essential” as a means of freeing up the capacity necessary to handle a world on lockdown. However, our interviewee says “they are still delivering other items if they are on a driver’s route”.
He added he was happy with the ethics of this policy – it seems to make sense that orders are fulfilled where possible to avoid a backlog.
So, it’s a thumbs up from this driver for Amazon. But we wonder if it’s a similar story working for other retailers. If you are working as a delivery driver right now, we’d like to hear from you.