• International Workplace
  • 23 May 2018

Hermes “hides behind ‘flexibility’” to deny workers their basic rights

The latest gig economy case to be tested in court started on 30 April, with courier firm Hermes facing action from GMB Union members.

The legal action, which follows GMB’s landmark success against Uber, is on behalf of eight Hermes couriers who believe they are being denied basic workers' rights by being forced to declare as self-employed.

Hermes has become a household name, providing courier services for firms like Next, ASOS, John Lewis, Topshop and River Island.

If the GMB members' case is successful, the company could be forced to change the way it treats all of its drivers.

The claimants are currently described as 'Lifestyle couriers', which means drivers aren't entitled to holiday pay or to the National Living Wage.

This is the latest in a string of cases brought to tackle bogus self-employment and gig economy exploitation.

In October 2016, GMB won a ground-breaking victory against Uber, where a similar Employment Tribunal ruled that Uber drivers should have 'worker' status and the rights that go with it. That landmark case could have major implications for more than 30,000 drivers across England and Wales, but Uber is currently appealing the decision.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“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.

“Companies like Hermes and Uber hide behind terms like ‘flexibility’ to wriggle out of treating the people who make them their money with the respect they deserve.

“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."