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App couriers report pay is down on previous years, as some struggle to make ends meet

Courier Insights Series: Pay

Recent times have seen the bleak reality of app-based courier work splashed across newspaper headlines. There was the story of Mohammed, the Deliveroo courier who collapsed while making a delivery in the borough of Tower Hamlets in February. In March, the death of Mizanur Rahman, in a fire caused by an electric bike battery, highlighted the cramped living conditions that many gig workers are forced to reside in. Earlier this month, the news broke that the Met Police’s abuse of stop and search powers to conduct immigration checks on couriers had led to 60 arrests. Additionally, through our own investigations into courier working conditions, we have seen that courier apps have created conditions which give rise to the risk of modern slavery.

Worker Info Exchange is now conducting a series of surveys with delivery couriers both online and in person, in an attempt to better understand the issues faced by couriers at work. The first of these surveys looked at pay – one of the most important issues for any worker.

Here is what we found…

For most of those who responded to our survey, courier work is their main form of income.

More than half the couriers surveyed work more than 40 hours per week, and 28% work more than 60 hours.

At the same time, more than half of those surveyed reported that their take home pay was not enough to cover their basic needs.

65% of workers take home £300 or less per week in earnings. That's £12,570 per annum or less after tax and national insurance payments - £20,000 less than the UK national average.

74% of those surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed that earnings were up on previous years.

These results suggest that, as the cost-of-living crisis continues in the UK, it is becoming harder to make a living via courier work. For those who work part-time in the sector, around other jobs, this may not be cause for too much concern. Those who rely on this work for all or the majority of their income however, 81% of those we surveyed, face rising precarity.

For these workers, the only route to increasing earnings is likely to be working longer and longer hours or working at higher speeds. This will be difficult for many, given that we can see that more than half of survey respondents are already working more than 40 hours per week, in a line of work which is already physically demanding.

Our next survey will cover health and safety at work, through which we will explore some of the physical and mental pressures of app-based courier work.


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