What actually is the solution?
Amandeep Kaur, 29, a Hermes courier from Leicester, was in the back of an ambulance rushing her seriously ill son to hospital when she first felt the pressure to get back to work. It was two weeks before Christmas, one of the busiest periods for Britain’s booming parcel delivery industry, but Kaur’s six-year-old, Sukhmanjeet, had collapsed at home and she could not make her deliveries. A few hours later, with her son about to undergo surgery, she rang her manager.
“I said my son had had a cardiac arrest and I can’t come in,” she recalled. “I don’t know how long for, but he is my priority right now. [The manager’s] response was ‘Oh, it has come at a very busy time’.”
Even as her son’s condition worsened, she felt pressured to get back to work as soon as she could or risk losing her round.
Over the coming days, Kaur said she called her manager with updates about her son, but as a self-employed courier with no employment contract, she felt her job was under threat.
One one occasion, she said, after Sukhmanjeet had a leg amputated, “the response was ‘OK, I can try and help you for the next few days, but I can’t make any promises [going] forward’.
“[The manager] was saying ‘Come back in two days or there’s nothing we can do. We need to give your round up because it is a busy period’.”
Her son died on 19 December 2015.
They, the employer, need someone to do the round. She’s self employed and cannot do it.
Kaur said she went back to work 10 days after her son’s funeral, which she said was far too early.
“I was told there were conversations happening at the depot that they couldn’t keep my round for too long,” she said. “I was under pressure. I wasn’t ready.”
So, umm, actually, they did keep her job open then?