Updated on The 22nd of August, 2022, to reflect some new changes to the insurance, Prime Now re-branding and rates of pay.
Do you have a good-sized car? Some spare time? Need to earn some extra money? If yes, is Amazon Flex the answer?
Yes, it may well be, but is it more trouble than it's worth?
Ok, so what is Amazon Flex? Flex is an official Amazon programme designed to allow people to get paid between £13 and £16 per hour to deliver Amazon orders directly to the customers. This pay rate has increased recently, by around £1 per hour, due to the increase in the cost of fuel.
There are two ways to do this; you can either work for Amazon Prime (Normal Amazon website orders) or Amazon Fresh, which are food deliveries and previously known as Prime Now.
Amazon Prime is the next-day delivery service from Amazon, and Amazon Fresh is the same-day delivery service, sometimes delivering your order within one hour.
You may find job offers on the app from an Amazon warehouse/depot, an Amazon Fresh depot/warehouse, and a local Morrisons or Co-op store, as Morrisons and co-op also offer Amazon Fresh products in selected areas. There are likely to be other stores using the Prime drivers as time passes; many rumours of Amazon tie-in with other retailers are going around!
Here's how it works; you sign up for the program and download an app. Every day, a list of available shifts, known as blocks, is made available for you to choose what suits your availability. Blocks usually are anything between 1 hour and four and a half hours, depending on which service you deliver for. The lower blocs are usually the standard Prime deliveries.
You select the block you want to work, and you are then booked. You need to arrive before your block starts, scan the parcels using the app on your phone you are delivering and load up your car. The app on your phone will schedule you a route to deliver all the parcels in the most logical order.
The number of parcels you will deliver depends on whether you deliver Prime or Fresh orders. Amazon Prime will generally mean that you are delivering a more significant number of parcels; however, usually, this will be within a smaller delivery area. Amazon Fresh typically consists of fewer deliveries, but the delivery area can be more significant.
The number of parcels you are given to deliver will depend on your block's length. If you have a four-hour block, you will have more deliveries than a 2-hour block!
The hourly rate sounds pretty good; however, this rate also includes your petrol expenses, so if you have a long route, you will be using more fuel, and so the amount you have earned during your block will be less as petrol is expensive. Your car will get more wear and tear doing this job, it does increase your miles, and you could be delivering to a block of flats or a rural farm with a long bumpy, stone driveway, so your car may take a bit of a beating!
It's worth noting the rates I have mentioned are the base rates, and so are the standard rates of pay for the role. You may get lucky and find an enhanced rate of pay at times when Amazon are short on drivers, or it's very busy, and then Amazon will up the pay rate to entice drivers to come and do some extra work! You can't rely on or expect to see these enhanced rates of pay; however, with rates as high as around £20 - £22 per hour, they are well worth looking out for, as they can make a difference to your wallet if you are lucky enough to grab one!
The job is relatively easy to perform. However, it can still be quite stressful as you need to get all your orders delivered within your block time, and doing this can be difficult if there is lots of traffic or bad weather etc.; you may get wet, you may get hot, and you may need the toilet whilst out. My top tip is to look out for a petrol station with an M&S food hall attached, as these always have a bathroom!
If you cannot deliver all the parcels, you are expected to return them to the depot. This is fine unless you find yourself miles away from the depot and have to go all the way then back! I often found myself with my block finished, all my parcels delivered, but then half an hour from home, which is annoying and wastes time and fuel money. It would help if you did everything possible to avoid returning parcels to the depot, as returned packages count against you. If you start returning loads, you will find your performance metrics drop. If they go too low, you may well be terminated from the Flex programme, which happens a lot, but I have to say that often it's because the driver can't be bothered to deliver the parcels and so takes loads back, and they don't appreciate that!
I have mixed feelings about the program. I like the flexibility of being able to pick up shifts that work for me; however, there is no guarantee that you will be able to pick up a shift when you want one, as obviously, there are many other people who also want the same shift, and the shifts can come and go very quickly. It's easy to miss out completely, but on the whole, it's a decent enough way to earn some extra cash.
Although there is no guarantee of shifts, you can generally pick up something, and the extra money is convenient. Many people use this system as a full-time job. Since you're not guaranteed work, this is not necessarily an ideal way to pay your bills, as there is no way to ensure that you will get work from one day to the next. It is designed to make extra cash and is not advertised as a full-time job.
Amazon gives you free insurance to deliver the goods, but this is due to change on the 31st of October 2022. From this point, you must purchase insurance to cover your time whilst delivering for Amazon. Amazon has teamed up with an insurance agent and is offering insurance for parcel delivery, from 22p per hour, it's unclear what factors would make the insurance more expensive for a driver, but this is due to be announced. Rival insurance companies offer rates of around £1.30 per hour for cover, so I suspect this will likely be around what most people will need to pay to be legally covered to deliver.
This insurance is only charged whilst delivering for Amazon and is likely to operate in the same way as fast food drivers' delivery insurance, who pay per hour for being able to deliver; this is controlled via an app on their smartphone, which is tied in with their food delivery app, and so knows when you are working, and will only bill you for when you are actually working.
It's been suggested by Amazon that they will increase drivers' rates of pay to compensate for this new expense; time will tell as to what degree this increase will pay towards the new insurance charge.
Your standard car insurance will not usually allow you to use your vehicle to make deliveries or work. You typically need goods in transit insurance, and getting this separately can be VERY expensive.
What do I need to know?
It would help if you were reasonably customer-focused as you will deliver directly to the customer and communicate with them. You must also be aware that you may sometimes deliver reasonably heavy goods. Sometimes you may need to walk up several flights of stairs to deliver to a property, so you must be fit enough to do this! Make sure you have a torch, and I recommend a fluorescent jacket.
One last thing to remember is that you are working for Amazon as a self-employed contractor. You are responsible for declaring your income and paying your taxes to the HMRC. Amazon will not make any deductions for tax or national insurance etc. You are an independent contractor and responsible for your tax affairs.
You can typically earn up to £1,000 per year before having to declare your additional income to HMRC. Once you go over this £1,000, you must register as self-employed, submit a yearly self-assessment, and be liable for any tax.
As part of the self-assessment, you can claim for any expenses for your vehicle, for having made the deliveries, the top one being petrol. You can either submit receipts for your fuel claim 45p per mile to cover your fuel costs and vehicle depreciation; you can't claim the mileage AND put through fuel receipts! You may find that once you remove your expenses, your tax bill will be minimal, possibly even non-existent.
You can be self-employed and also work for another company as well; many people think this isn't allowed. You can work a standard PAYE job as well as work for yourself, so long as you do inform HMRC and file yearly self-assessments; the HMRC have no problem with you having more than one job; in fact, often, it's in their best interest if you do, as they get more tax from you!