25 June 2018
The Employment Tribunal has today ruled that a group of Hermes couriers were not independent contractors, as claimed by Hermes, but are workers who are entitled to essential workers’ rights, including the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage, receive holiday pay and reclaim unlawful deductions from their wages.
The ruling affects the 65 couriers that have already brought claims, but is also likely to impact upon the wider network of 14,500 Hermes couriers who are engaged under the same contract as the couriers. The couriers’ claims, which are supported by the trade union GMB, were heard in Leeds Employment Tribunal in April and May 2018.
Michael Newman, from the Employment team at law firm Leigh Day, which represents the couriers, said:
“We are delighted that the Employment Tribunal has found in favour of our clients. "This judgment acknowledges that Hermes couriers, as the customer-fronting 'face of Hermes', play an integral part in the success of the company. The judgment confirms that they work for Hermes as part of Hermes’ business.
"Hermes claim that the job of a courier offers a flexibility that is consistent with being an independent contractor. In reality, the majority of Hermes couriers sign up as 'round holders' with an expectation that they must work six days a week. They must deliver some parcels within a selected time slot and attempt delivery of every parcel on the day it is handed to them. Their performance is closely tracked and they are subject to disciplinary procedures if their performance does not meet the standards set by Hermes. Payment is entirely dictated by Hermes, who decide how couriers are paid (in part based on performance) and even generate the invoice for them.
“Some of the couriers have not been paid the national minimum wage and often find it difficult to take holiday. This judgment goes some way to addressing those issues - it ensures that they guaranteed the basic working rights of national minimum wage and paid annual leave. It is yet another example of an employer who has incorrectly classified their workers as self-employed independent contractors and denied them the rights to which they are entitled."
There will now be a further hearing in the Employment Tribunal to calculate the holiday pay, national minimum wage and any unlawful deductions that the couriers should receive.