PMP Recruitment treats Amazon warehouse temp staff 'like you're a zero' - Leeds worker's claims

A recruitment agency treats the people on its books "like you're a zero", according to one temporary worker assigned shifts at an Amazon warehouse in Leeds.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 11:45 am

The man applied for a warehouse role advertised by PMP Recruitment last autumn, having worked in the leisure industry prior to the pandemic.

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Although no longer working shifts at Amazon he did not wish to be named as he remains on the agency's books.

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Amazon has a number of warehouses in Leeds, including a vast £60m complex at the Logic Leeds Distribution Park.

"I dealt with PMP as little as I could," he said. "They treat you like you're a zero. It's almost like they think everybody has not had a job before. It's belittling to people how they treat them."

It comes after the Yorkshire Evening Post published evidence uncovered by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) about how agency workers used by Amazon had been left in the lurch with zero-hours contracts and no guarantee of pay for 20 hours' work a week – both of which are in breach of the company's stated policies.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Our agency terms are explicit that Amazon does not engage individuals on zero-hour contracts."

Yet TBIJ found those employed via PMP were on 'minimum-hours contracts' that do not guarantee weekly or monthly hours – something the agency denies.

The worker who spoke to the YEP said: "I've done a couple of zero-hours contracts before. They've all got downsides but this is the worst I've come across and experienced. I can confirm 100 per cent that it's a zero-hours contract.

"It's so inconsistent. I would be getting five or six shifts a week [before Christmas]. There was some other people, even though we were busy, still struggling to get one or two shifts and going to [PMP] to try to get it sorted out. It was constant problems with it."

He said PMP had initially offered him a 40-hour weekly contract and asked whether he wished to opt out of the Working Time Directive, allowing him to work an average of more than 48 hours per week. He chose not to opt out.

"They started giving me six shifts a week, over 50 hours a week," he said. "I went to PMP, who were supposed to help."

The worker said he was initially told he had no contract and must prove that he chose not to opt out, but the PMP staff member then changed their position as soon as he offered to supply the requested evidence.

He said the encounter was typical of his interactions with the agency, adding: "They're unprofessional, incompetent and rude."

The worker, who needed to take some sick leave in December, said that anyone unable to carry out shifts was required to ring PMP daily until they were fit to return.

"One specific day, I couldn't get through," he said. "I rang them eight times, I left two or three voicemails, I sent a text."

But it was not until early February that he received an email saying was receiving a written warning for an authorised absence. Around the same time, he claims another colleague also received a warning for an absence in October.

"It's clearly them trying to get rid of people," he said. "I know that they were trying to do this to people."

The worker challenged PMP over the warning, supplying proof of the calls and communications he had sent on the day in question that showed the lengths taken to report his absence properly. The warning was then removed from his file but there was no apology or promise to look into the agency's procedures.

When he questioned why the warning was issued without following a proper disciplinary process or investigation, he said he was told that this was due to social distancing.

The worker told the YEP that it was part of a wider pattern of PMP finding reasons to issue warnings and end temporary contracts with Amazon after the Christmas peak, with those let go being told they remained on the agency books and might still be given shifts at other employers.

"I never felt that I had job security," he said. "It would get to the point where you would dread going into work or hoped you could go home early. You can't get a warning if you go home early."

He said he had no issues with the work at the warehouse itself, adding: "It's how PMP is run - but Amazon hires the agency."

Following the publication of TBIJ's findings, the Recruitment and Employment Federation said it would be investigating.

The Federation has since said it found "no evidence of wrongdoing” by PMP and a second agency in connection with allegations of poor treatment of workers at Amazon sites in the UK.

A PMP spokesperson said that, like many businesses, it has had to adapt to working remotely due to Covid but it was "proud of our teams" for supporting more than 103,000 temporary workers into jobs over the past year.

It said: "Temporary recruitment agencies such as PMP exist to support the flexible labour requirements of customers. As a result, we are unable to offer our workforce full time guaranteed hour contracts but we do, on a regular basis, offer 40 hour weeks or hours to suit personal circumstances. Many of our agency staff do progress into permanent roles with us or our customers."

On the contracts for Amazon workers, it said: "In this specific case, our colleagues are not employed under zero-hour contracts and are provided with a guaranteed minimum number of shifts per week."

Responding to the TBIJ finding, Amazon previously said: "Our agency terms are explicit that Amazon does not engage individuals on zero-hour contracts. Associates on temporary assignments at Amazon, who are employed by agencies, work a range of shifts from full-time to part-time, however in the majority of cases a 40-hour week is offered.

"Many who join us on temporary assignments do remain with us and take permanent positions but, at the same time, we do have to say goodbye to some. We thank them for their hard work and dedication and encourage them to stay in contact for future opportunities."

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