Best lorry driving jobs

Lorry drivers are integral to keeping the cogs of day-to-day life turning.

From getting products to shops, delivering medicines to hospitals and hauling equipment up and down the country. Businesses, healthcare and life in general depends on road transport.

Yet there is a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.

So, if you’re looking for a new job and lorry driving appeals to you, it’s worth exploring this further.

We’ll help you figure out:

a) whether a lorry driving job is for you

b) which companies offer the best lorry driver jobs

This is what we'll be covering:

We’ve looked at what real lorry drivers on Breakroom have shared about their experiences of the job.

Here’s what they have to say.

The top 10 companies for lorry driver jobs

  1. Sellafield Ltd: 8.1/10

  2. Freightliner: 8.0/10

  3. Hoyer: 7.6/10

  4. Maritime Transport: 7.4/10

  5. Kuehne + Nagel: 7.3/10

  6. EV Cargo: 7.3/10

  7. Arla Foods: 7.1/10

  8. Martin Brower: 7.0/10

  9. PD Ports: 6.9/10

  10. Bidfood: 6.8/10

Interested to learn more about lorry driving? Keep reading.

What’s a lorry driver?

Lorry drivers, put simply, drive things to from A to B.

What sets them apart from other types of delivery jobs is that they typically:

  • make fewer ‘drops’ or deliveries

  • carry larger loads

  • drive special vehicles

Lorry drivers drive heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) or large goods vehicles (LGVs). These are large vehicles that can carry a lot of weight, starting from 3500kg.

As these are specialist vehicles, to drive them requires a special type of license.

And depending on how big the vehicle is, you’ll need a specific license for that size.

What are lorry drivers also known as?

There are many different job titles for lorry drivers. Here are some of the most common:

  • Heavy goods vehicle drivers

  • HGV 1/class 1 drivers

  • HGV 2/ class 2 drivers

  • LGV category C+E drivers

  • 7.5 tonne drivers

So what are the best things about being a lorry driver?

Lorry driving is a unique job: you’re out on the road, have time to yourself and have opportunities to travel all over the place.

Here’s what lorry drivers said was the best thing about their job.

The freedom of being out on the road

'Being on the open road and meeting people'

'Freedom of driving'

'Being out and about'

The flexibility of managing your own work schedule

'Left to do your own job'

'Company let us just get on with the job'

'Flexible start times'

The pay rates

'Well paid'

'Pay and conditions'

'Well paid, enjoy the driving'

How much do lorry drivers earn?

Now you’ve seen what a lorry driver does, let’s look at what they earn.

Here’s a breakdown of pay rates from employers that have 6 or more Breakroom reviews from lorry drivers.

Employer 25% workers earn this or less 50% workers earn this or less 75% workers earn this or less
Royal Mail £15.00 £18.00 £19.00
Aldi £13.48 £14.40 £16.91
Wincanton £14.33 £14.33 £14.33
Co-op Food £13.96 £13.96 £13.96
DHL £11.97 £12.40 £13.40
Asda £12.53 £12.53 £12.92

Royal Mail have steam-rolled the competition here: 75% of lorry drivers earn £19.00 per hour or less. Not bad at all.

The good news is that although the other companies in this list don’t match Royal Mail’s pay rates, they still all pay well above the Real Living Wage. As of 2020, this is £9.30 across the UK, and £10.75 in London.

Are lorry drivers paid for extra work?

You’ve now seen what lorry drivers get paid per hour, but what happens if they work a little bit extra or do overtime? Do they get paid for this?

72% of lorry drivers aren't paid for extra work

Sadly, this is where things drop down a little bit.

The vast majority of lorry drivers don’t get paid for any extra work they do beyond their contracted hours.

How many hours do lorry drivers work?

After discovering that most lorry drivers don’t get paid for extra work, let’s take a step back and look at what hours they typically work.

99% of lorry drivers work 35 hours or more a week

Just a whisker shy from 100% - almost all lorry drivers work full-time hours.

However, given that lorry drivers work 35 hours or more a week, the next discovery is quite surprising.

Driver age % lorry drivers worry about hours
16-34 33%
35 or more 67%

Although the majority of lorry drivers don’t worry about getting enough hours, a third do worry about this.

This is despite the fact that pretty much all lorry drivers on Breakroom work full-time hours.

Why is this?

Looking at what lorry drivers have shared about this, there’s a definite trend. Here’s what they have said:

'No permanent position'

'No stable hours'

'Not knowing start or finish times from day to day'

'Not knowing how many hours I’ll be doing on a daily basis'

'No guaranteed hours'

'Unsteady hours'

There are quite a few lorry drivers that, despite working a lot of hours, don’t feel secure in their jobs.

Are lorry drivers stressed?

As we’ve seen, a third of lorry drivers don’t worry about the hours they’ll get.

So what we’re asking next is: are lorry drivers stressed?

Here’s what lorry drivers have to say.

87% of lorry drivers say they are stressed at work

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty big yes.

Digging into what lorry drivers have shared about their jobs, there are patterns to why this is.

  • Not always guaranteed hours (as previously mentioned)

  • Long hours and heavy workload

  • Tricky management

Let’s take a further look into these.

Do lorry drivers get proper breaks?

As mentioned above, although there isn’t a lot of security in hours ahead of working, many lorry drivers work long shifts.

When discussing what the worst thing about their job is, long hours along with heavy workload came up a lot. Here are some examples that were shared:

'Long hours in the summer'

'Long hours, hard work'

'Early starts and long days'

'Some days the days are long'

'Too much work'

'Too many jobs in one day'

As long, tiring shifts are common, we wanted to see if lorry drivers were getting proper breaks.

87% of lorry drivers get proper breaks

The good news is that the majority do!

Having such long working days means that getting proper breaks is very important.

This is not only important for their wellbeing but also for safety on the road.

Are lorry drivers paid for their breaks?

We’ve seen that lorry drivers get proper breaks, but are they paid for them?

56% of lorry drivers are paid for their breaks

Just over half of lorry drivers get paid for their breaks.

So although they are able to take proper breaks, these are not paid for.

Given that breaks are a legal requirement to keep lorry drivers safe on the road, they should not be missing out on pay when doing so.

What do lorry drivers think of company management?

To further our understanding of why most lorry drivers are stressed, we’re going to look at management in companies that hire lorry drivers.

A significant amount of lorry drivers have shared that company management is the worst thing about their job. Here are some examples:

'Poor management decisions'

'Lack of knowledge from managers who aren’t on the frontline'

'Very short sighted decisions from management'

'Manager doesn’t communicate and manage properly'

'Management don’t listen'

From what has been shared, there seems to be a pattern in the disconnect between management and the frontline experience of lorry drivers.

A good company supports workers on the frontline and understands the practicalities of their jobs.

It looks like a lot of these companies still need to work on building on this support.

Do lorry drivers get proper sick pay?

When looking at the reasons why the majority of lorry drivers are stressed, it’s clear to see that workload and management culture have a big impact.

So we wanted to look at another potential cause of stress: taking time off sick.

We looked at what percentage of lorry drivers get paid for taking sick leave. This is what we found:

67% of lorry drivers don't get sick pay

Unfortunately, the majority of lorry drivers don’t get sick pay.

Nobody can help getting ill, and losing out on pay because of this can be very stressful.

If you’re thinking about becoming a lorry driver, it’s worthwhile having a look at the sick pay policy for different companies before deciding which to work for.

The Breakroom verdict on companies that hire lorry drivers

Lorry driving jobs are ideal for people who like to work mostly on their own and have space to think.

If you also like the idea of travelling for work, lorry driving could be a really good fit for you.

Lorry driving is vital to the UK’s infrastructure. It’s an important job, and we think there are changes that could be made to reflect this better.

The companies who hire lorry drivers could improve their Breakroom rating by doing the following:

  • Paying lorry drivers for extra work and breaks

  • Providing sick pay to all lorry drivers

  • Providing shift rotas well in advance (four weeks or more)

  • Addressing the communication issues between management and lorry drivers

If you’re interested in applying for a lorry driving job, it’s really worth having a look to see if the companies hiring hit any of the points above.

Have a look around, and see what companies offer the best conditions for work.

The data used here is from 20 August 2020

Published on 8 September 2020