DPD unveils new terms of employment following driver’s death

Delivery giant DPD has announced an all-new contract with its workforce, following a strategic review triggered by a driver’s death in January. Dorset resident Don Lane, 53, had succumbed to symptoms of diabetes after missing hospital appointments related to his condition. According to Lane’s wife Ruth, he had been “terrified” of taking time off work to attend his medicals because of DPD’s ‘breach’ policy – under which the firm imposed £150 fines on drivers who missed delivery rounds. Lane, who had chalked up 19 years of service at DPD, had already been stung for £150 last year for missing a round for medical reasons.

DPD was heavily criticised in the wake of Lane’s death, with business secretary Greg Clark describing the driver’s predicament as a “terrible tragedy” and Frank Field MP accusing the firm of “appalling exploitation”. Under its new Driver Code, DPD staff will begin as employed drivers, with the option to explore self-employed options. If they choose the latter, they will be provided with access to business advice. Drivers will be paid a minimum of £8.75 per hour, and the infamous breach policy has been scrapped.

DPD CEO Dwain McDonald said: “The Driver Code represents a complete reappraisal of every aspect of our driver package. Our aim is simple: to make DPD the carrier of choice for delivery drivers and for our drivers to be the best rewarded in the industry. The feedback we’ve already had from the depots suggests we are on the right track.  Many of the ideas here have come directly from meetings my team and I have had with drivers, and their input has been vital throughout this process.”

 

Mental-health impacts of late payments upon SME owners are worsening

Damage inflicted upon SME owners’ mental health by late-paying clients has grown significantly worse in the past year, according to new research from campaign group The Prompt Payments Directory (PPD). In an annual survey of 1,000 firms affected by cash-flow problems, the group found that the number of owners who have suffered loss of sleep because of late payments has doubled – from 34% in 2017 to 68% now. Meanwhile, those who have experienced depression, anxiety, heightened stress or other mental health crises as a result of payment delays has reached 52%: a 23% rise on last year’s figure.

PPD managing director Hugh Gage said that while recent, high-profile cases such as the Carillion story had raised public awareness of late payments, “in reality, this has been going on for years”. He noted: “The impact of late payments has got even worse since last year and is having even deeper repercussions on businesses nationwide – it’s affecting and even destroying people’s business, health and lives.”

He added: “Business owners need to arm themselves against some of the most common late payment issues and fight back against these poor practices, as it’s always best to try and avoid them from the outset by using due diligence through credit reference agencies, or services such as The PPD, which rates businesses’ payment behaviour by those that it affects: their suppliers.”

New York entrepreneur levels staff benefits to tackle inequality

A US entrepreneur has penned an opinion piece for the New York Times explaining why she has given her hourly workers the same benefits as her salaried staff. In the article, Jennifer Y Hyman – founder of New York-based, designer-gowns-for-hire outlet Rent the Runway – says that the move stemmed from concerns over inequality in the American workforce.

“Like so many companies before us,” she writes, “my company … had two tiers of workers. Our salaried employees – who typically came from relatively privileged, educated backgrounds – were given generous parental leave, paid sick leave and the flexibility to work from home, or even abroad. Our hourly employees, working in Rent the Runway’s warehouse, on the customer service team and in our retail stores, had to face life events like caring for a newborn, grieving after the death of a family member or taking care of a critically ill loved one without this same level of benefits.”

Hyman notes: “I had inadvertently created classes of employees – and by doing so, had done my part to contribute to America’s inequality problem.” As such, she adds: “Last month, I equalised benefits for all of our employees at Rent the Runway. Our warehouse, customer service and store employees now have the same bereavement, parental leave, family sick leave and sabbatical packages that corporate employees have.”

 

Think tank urges UK government to give millennials £10K each

Social think tank the Resolution Foundation has called upon the government to provide millennials with no-strings payments of £10,000 each, by way of a ‘Citizens’ Inheritance’. The Foundation cites a number of work-related factors behind its reasoning: millennials in their 20s are more likely to be in insecure work, are 25% less likely to have moved jobs than Generation-Xers were at the same age and, as such, are missing out on big pay rises.

It adds: “New analysis shows that the disposable incomes of millennials at age 30 are no higher than the generation before them at that age – despite the economy growing by 14% over the last 15 years. In contrast, the incomes of baby boomers at age 30 were more than one third higher than the generation before them.”

The proposal has secured the backing of both the TUC and the CBI. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Today’s young workers shoulder huge risks. They’re bearing the brunt of the rise in insecure work. And many have little prospect of a decent home or a decent pension. To fix these problems we need an economy that works for all people – millennials and baby boomers alike.”

 

Aussie finance firm slashes working day to five hours

An Australian company of financial advisers found that it could hit the same productivity goals by working for just five hours per day as it did on the standard, eight-hour schedule, according to an opinion piece at the Financial Times. Hobart-based firm Collins SBA began its experiment when its leader Jonathan Elliot began to work part time, after his wife – who had recently given birth – was diagnosed with cancer. Elliot found that he was able to deliver the same output in just five hours per day as he normally did at full time.

Having made that discovery, he introduced a five-hour working day across the entire firm. According to the article, “Sick days have plunged. Talented recruits have been hired. Some advisers have done record levels of new business.” Elliot explains that the new arrangement led several employees to leave, because it automatically sharpened the firm’s scrutiny of performance. “You’re putting people under the spotlight,” he said. “It became very obvious which people were getting nothing done.”

Image of DPD van courtesy of Lucian Milasan, via Shutterstock