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A message to Hermes

Courier firm workers win battle for employment rights

This Monday, the Leeds Employment Tribunal ruled that a group of self-employed couriers were entitled to the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.

Following their successes against Uber and Addison Lee, the GMB Union are once again championing the causes of exploited workers, claiming the enforced self-employed status of these people to be “bogus”.

The tribunal ruled that the 65 couriers who brought claims against Hermes, were not independent contractors but rather ‘workers’ and as such are entitled to basic employment rights such as National Minimum Wage and holiday pay, and to reclaim unlawful deductions. Whilst only a small number were involved in this legal action supported by the GMB, it is likely to rouse the interest of the network of some 14,500 Hermes couriers who are engaged under identical contracts.

A further Employment Tribunal hearing will take place to calculate the holiday pay, National Minimum Wage, and any unlawful deductions due to the couriers.

Buoyed by their success, the GMB has also announced legal action against three Amazon delivery companies.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“This is yet another ruling that shows the gig economy for what it is – old fashioned exploitation under a shiny new facade.

“Bosses can’t just pick and choose which laws to obey. Workers’ rights were hard won, GMB isn’t about to sit back and let them be eroded or removed by the latest loophole employers have come up with to make a few extra quid.”

“Not only will this judgement directly affect more than 14,000 Hermes couriers across the country, it’s another nail in the coffin of the exploitative bogus self-employment model which is increasingly rife across the UK.”

“We urge Hermes to sit down with us and have a meaningful discussion.”

Frank Field MP, Chair of Work & Pensions Select Committee, using sensationalistic language said:

Can even the World Cup produce a better result than this?”

“It ranks among the most substantial judicial interventions ever to support vulnerable workers in this country.”

“The decision is a mega knockback to those companies still using old means of exploiting vulnerable workers.”

Michael Newman from Leigh Day solicitors commented:

“This judgment acknowledges that Hermes couriers, as the customer-fronting “face of Hermes”, play an integral part in the success of the company. It confirms that they work for Hermes as part of the Hermes business”

This ruling comes hot off the heels of the Supreme Court ruling in the Pimlico Plumbers case and is likely to send tremors through the ‘gig’ economy.

Further details of the tribunal’s ruling will follow once the transcript has been published.

By Andy Vessey

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1 thought on “A message to Hermes”

  1. Soprano

    I don’t understand why people are cheering this on. Firms in an increasingly competitive market will most likely seek to shed labour when it becomes cost-prohibitive. Forcing them to make back payments for a relationship deemed to be a “worker” one only based on archaic status tests does not seem to be a good outcome to me and will simply spur their urge to automate and shed jobs. Employment is highly costly – that firms seek alternative arrangements shows how urgently this area needs to undergo review.

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