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Red flags for self employed drivers

Red flags for self employed drivers

12th January 2023

Like all relationships, the one between a self-employed courier and their customer can come with “red flags”, those warning signs that may indicate problems to come. We wanted to highlight our top five, taken from feedback drivers have given us.

Extended Payment Terms

We all work to make money to live. Self-employed couriers should expect to have their charges paid (subject to accurate invoicing) within 14 days. But, we have seen some drivers having to wait 60 days plus to receive their money. This is not commercially practical unless the job makes a HUGE profit that justifies the wait.

Never forget, “cash is king”, and it needs to be in your bank.

Last-minute Cancellations

Customers who cancel jobs at the last minute should pay you a cancellation fee. Your time is money, and if you’ve blocked time out for a job, you need to be compensated as the chances are you have turned down other paying work.

We hear lots of stories of companies booking couriers just in case they need them and cancelling at the last moment when they don’t, leaving it too late for the courier to pick up other work.

If in doubt, ensure you have terms and conditions in place to help deter people from wasting your time.

Vague, Sloppy Processes

If the business you are working with are sloppy or don’t give clear and accurate instructions, it is often a sign they are not a very professional outfit. From your perspective, it does not bode well for a mutually beneficial relationship.

A lack of clear instructions can often set a courier up for failure and lead to payment disputes.

Unclear Payments

You need to be absolutely clear that you will be paid, not just for the job of couriering, but also any waiting time, return trips, and failed deliveries that were not your fault.

We have heard some horror stories where companies have looked to avoid paying couriers or worse still recharge them penalty fees for things they had no control over.

Ensure you are clear about your payment structures and charges.

Strange Vehicles Hire Arrangements

The market is awash with companies working for organisations like Amazon and Hermes, which will hire you a van so that you can work as a self-employed driver for them!

This seems a straightforward solution for the driver, but the relationship can get very confusing with crazy hire charges, money stopped without consent from work payments so much so that you could end up working all week just to pay for van hire!

A number of these businesses also do not provide the correct self-drive hire insurance, so BEWARE.


If you are new to couriering, it can seem daunting. But, any work you do is only worthwhile if you make money so spend the time and effort to ensure that happens, rather than being worked by customers who are simply looking to make a profit. This is your livelihood.

There are some great companies to work for out there, so if you find one, it’s good to hang on to them. Commerce should all be about mutual benefits where both parties profit from the relationship.

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