A leading union is taking an employment tribunal case against parcel delivery company, Hermes, in another challenge of the status of its workers.
Eight Hermes couriers, also known as ‘lifestyle couriers’, allege they are being denied basic workers’ rights by being forced to identify as self-employed. This means they aren’t entitled to the national living wage or holiday pay.
Earlier this year, rival delivery firm DPD offered all of its drivers sick and holiday pay as part of wholesale reforms to its gig working model. This was due to the death of one of their employees who missed numerous medical appointments to treat his diabetes.
Click here to read: “DPD to offer drivers employment rights following the death of a self-employed courier”.
Other organisations such as Uber, Addison Lee and eCourier have also had similar tribunal hearings where judges have ruled that employees should receive basic worker rights such as holiday pay and the minimum wage.
In 2016, Uber was told their drivers should be classified as ‘workers’ and receive minimum-wage rights. The transportation network company who say their drivers are self-employed, lost their appeal against the decision in 2017. Uber have said they will appeal again, however, the case could be taken to the Supreme Court later this year.
Click here to read: “Uber loses appeal over employment rights”.
The GMB union, who are helping the Hermes couriers take the case to an employment tribunal, claimed the workers are set unrealistic targets and work long hours.
The general secretary of the GMB union, Tim Roache, stated: “GMB’s courier members do a tough job – working long hours with unrealistic targets. They make a fortune for companies like Hermes, the least they should be able to expect in return is the minimum wage and their hard-fought rights at work”.
“Guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick pay, pension contributions are not privileges companies can dish out when they fancy. They are the legal right of all UK workers and that’s what we’re asking the courts to rule on”.
In 2017, Hermes avoided the criticism surrounding the gig economy, stating they had “little to do with these so-called gig economy companies”.
The Government’s Good Work plan was questioned earlier this year as it failed to consider new laws to stop false self-employment. Instead, it created several consultations into plans to improve workers’ rights, including those working in the gig economy.
DPD are set to introduce a new contract this year that provides self-employed drivers access to benefits such as sick pay, annual leave and pension entitlement. Hermes should take direction from this and allow all people who make them money have access to basic worker rights.
If you have any questions on employee status, please get in touch with a member of the HPC team.
Phone: 0844 800 5932