Hermes off to court over drivers' self-employed status

Hermes has become the latest ‘gig economy’ giant to face legal action over the status of its supposedly self-employed workforce.

Fresh on the heels of its victory against Uber, the GMB union said it has taken action against the courier company, in a case that could force it to reconsider how it treats its drivers.

“In classifying their couriers as self-employed, Hermes avoid giving them basic rights such as holiday pay and the national living wage,” the union alleges.

“Under the false claims of ‘flexibility’ Hermes seems to think it’s acceptable to wriggle out of treating its workers with respect.”

The use of the word ‘workers’ is fitting, as GMB’s argument -- due to be put by law firm Leigh Day -- is that Hermes drivers are really the company’s ‘workers,’ deserving them of more rights than if they were simply ‘self-employed.’

“We believe that Hermes are deliberately avoiding giving their couriers the rights to which they are entitled,” the law firm says. “They do so by labelling the couriers who work for them as self-employed, when the reality is different.”

Earlier this week, the Work and Pensions Committee branded self-employment contracts used by Hermes, and other gig economy companies, as “gibberish” and “almost unintelligible”.

The criticism coincides with an intervention by HMRC, which has reportedly written to Hermes drivers (eight are bringing the case), requesting details about their working practices.


May 5, 2017
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