Courier delivery organisation Hermes is to face legal action over the entitlement of its couriers to workers’ rights, such as holiday pay and the national living wage.
The legal action is being brought by the GMB trade union on behalf of eight Hermes couriers.
The legal claim, which has been lodged with the employment tribunal by law firm Leigh Day, argues that by labelling couriers as self-employed, Hermes is avoiding providing employment rights to couriers. The legal claim contends that the couriers should be classified as workers, meaning that they are entitled to receive employment rights, including holiday pay and the minimum or national living wage.
In September 2016, Margot James, parliamentary under secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, invited HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to consider investigating working practices at Hermes. The invitation followed a letter sent by MP Frank Field in July 2016 to Prime Minister Teresa May, which outlined complaints made to him by couriers at Hermes.
Maria Ludkin, legal director at GMB, said: “GMB will fight bogus self-employment and exploitative practices whenever and wherever we can. Under the false claims of ‘flexibility’, Hermes seems to think it’s acceptable to wriggle out of treating its workers with respect.
“Guaranteed hours, sick pay, pension contributions; these aren’t privileges to be bestowed when [organisations] feel like it, they are the legal right of all UK workers.”
Michael Newman, partner at Leigh Day, added: “We believe that Hermes [is] deliberately avoiding giving [its] couriers the rights to which they are entitled. [It does] so by labelling the couriers who work for t[it] as self-employed, when the reality is different.
“We have started employment tribunal proceedings in order to challenge this, so that these couriers can enforce their rights as workers.”
Hermes had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.