The delivery firm Hermes has announced that they have reached a deal with GMB union over allowing it’s 15,000 drivers to be offered a form of ‘self-employment plus. However some experts are warning that the deal that has been agreed may not be as good as it first appears.
The new form of status for Hermes couriers will see the drivers receive up to 28 days of paid leave per year and also an increase of hourly wage to £8.50 per hour, whilst still remaining self-employed. As a part of this deal the couriers will be expected to follow routes that have been specified by Hermes when delivering items.
However, despite the apparent benefits and steps forward this deal offers, the Head of Employment and Immigration at Mackrell Turner Garrett, Donna Martin, has said that the couriers and those working in other gig economies should air on the side of caution, “the extension of new rights to the workers at Hermes will be seen as a victory by some who are opposed to the current working conditions on offer”. With the new deal in place, it is not yet clear whether other benefits will be available such as sick pay and rest breaks. “While these Hermes workers will be gaining new rights, they will effectively still be contractors for the business and not employees or workers and therefore they can have their contract cancelled or cut back at a moment’s notice without explanation,” explained Martin.
The head of Employment practice at the law firm Joelson, David Greenhalgh, stated that he did not believe the development of the deal to have much of a legal impact on other companies that rely on gig workers in their day to day running of their business. He further stated that the decision of Hermes is ‘more reactionary’ that anything else. This is because the decision came soon after a tribunal decision which found the companies drivers were in fact workers. “For Hermes drivers, they now at least know where they stand, but the pressure for other gig economy companies to follow suit will be reputational rather than on the back of a new legal precedent having been set”.
However, contrary to what many experts have said, the general Secretary of the GMB Union, Tim Roache, has described the reached agreement as a ‘landmark deal’ and further added that Hermes is ‘leading the way’ with its new deal emphasising on doing the right thing. “This is a win for Hermes workers, and for the company itself. Hermes is showing that as the world of work has changed, employers can change with it for everyone’s benefit,” he said. “It’s now time for other employers to take notice and take a leaf out of Hermes’ book.”
A legislation expert at MHR, Neil Tonks, believes that the reached agreement is beneficial to both parties. Tonks stated that, “for drivers it provides them with the option to receive greater protection and maintain the flexibility of self-employment, which is important to them, while despite the cost implications it shows Hermes as a people focused organisation which will help them to attract and retain the best talent”.
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