August 10, 2022 5.30 pm This story is over 22 months old

DPD Lincoln delivery drivers speak out on ‘overworking culture’

‘Drivers’ mental health at breaking point’

Two whistleblowers claim Lincoln DPD delivery workers are quitting in droves due to alleged overworking conditions at the courier company.

The men, one currently working with the company as a driver, and one previous courier, wished not to be identified, and told The Lincolnite of intense pressures placed on delivery personnel at the Witham St Hughs depot, which serves the city and Lincolnshire.

Parcel giant DPD, short for Dynamic Parcel Distribution, and its franchisees have been accused of enforcing a culture of illegal hours at the cost of workers’ health and wellbeing. The company has denied allegations however, stating there is “nothing in the data to suggest these claims in Lincoln are true.”

While the law states couriers are only allowed to drive for 10 hours in a day, and be on duty for 11, the whistleblower said workers’ driving shifts regularly exceed this – up to 14 or 15 hours in some cases.

Drivers, he claimed, are forced to forfeit breaks daily and exceed their contracted hours to make up for tip delays and to complete runs on ‘condensed routes’ – often without extra pay.

They are reportedly faced with an impossible position, accepting unpaid overtime through fear of speaking out or losing their jobs.

Another former colleague also told The Lincolnite he had no choice but to urinate in the back of his van so as not to be penalised. He said he was physically sick with anxiety before each shift.

Every day, hundreds of parcels are loaded onto vans in Lincoln, set for destinations across the vast county.

The unnamed driver explained recent cutbacks, a reaction he says to fuel costs and inflation, mean the number of routes has been condensed, “so everyone’s day is longer and harder, but the pay is the same.”

“Not only that,” he explains, “but the morning tip at the depot is delayed every day, sometimes by up to two hours, so drivers are already on the back foot.

“Drivers are having to work through their breaks and over their contracted hours in order to catch up and make all the deliveries expected. They are constantly chasing their tails.

“Workers are walking out because of the pressure on them. They are really suffering with their mental health.

“If we work a day rate, for say nine hours, and end up working 11/12 hours, we can ask for extra pay. But when it happens every day it comes to a point where you just accept it.

“I ask for extra pay, but there are drivers who don’t feel confident enough to ask.

“I feel sorry for my boss. The franchise owners can’t afford to pay their drivers more money.

“The fuel price almost doubled and the franchises get an allowance for fuel, but the increase was minuscule.

“There needs to be a change in the way workers are treated. Just looking at the heatwave for example, drivers were on the road for shifts for more than 10 hours on the hottest day of the year.”

He said that there were around 200 drivers around two years ago, but around 150 now.

A second man, a former DPD delivery driver, also contacted The Lincolnite with his experience.

“Because of the franchise system DPD have in place, this makes it extremely easy for them to respond to such claims by implying it’s down to the franchise owners to ensure hours are recorded etc.

“During my time there before March 2022, the job was causing me anxiety to the point where I was being physically sick before my shift at the thought of going into to whatever carnage the depot had in store for us,” so the fact that DPD will claim no knowledge of this is absolutely false.

“Drivers often have no choice but to urinate in the back of vans during the route, otherwise this would be classed as ‘going off route’ resulting in a passive aggressive phone call from management, [&] disciplinary action.”

DPD told The Lincolnite claims about the Lincoln depot “didn’t stack up” and that there was “no record of any drivers reporting mental health issues.”

DPD ‘don’t recognise the claims’

A DPD spokesperson said in a statement: “We don’t recognise the claims being made here at all. We have data on tip-times, staff turnover, working hours, absences and almost everything else that happens in a depot and there is nothing to suggest these claims in Lincoln are true.

“Drivers do work in all weathers, and it is something we are always very mindful of. During the heatwave, advice was constantly given on the importance of keeping hydrated throughout the day, while the management team were handing out bottles of water and iced drinks as drivers departed the depot. Advice was also provided on what to do if any driver felt unwell at any time.

“We have adjusted the time the parcels arrive at all DPD depots recently, but driver start times have been pushed back to accommodate this and ensure no change in the length of the drivers’ working day.

“Our systems will not allow drivers to be planned over their legal working hours, and breaks are automatically scheduled into their working day, as this is a legal requirement.

“There is nothing at all to suggest anything untoward in Lincoln in terms of staff turnover. There is also no record of any drivers reporting with mental health issues.

“If the driver works for a franchisee, rather than directly for DPD, all remuneration is the responsibility of the franchisee, rather than DPD.

“We are very aware of the impact of fuel prices and have done more than any other carrier to financially support our drivers and franchisees. We have also employed additional drivers to reduce the impact on those with the highest mileage routes.”

The Linconite has contacted The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) with its source’s complaints.

The watchdog could not confirm or deny whether it is undertaking an investigation at the company’s Lincoln depot.

It did however direct any complaints about alleged drivers hour infringements to visit the website here.

If you wish to speak to a journalist about the issues highlighted in this report, or another Lincolnshire story, please email [email protected] or [email protected].