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Hermes claim

The Claim

Leigh Day, supported by trade union GMB, are bringing claims on behalf of Hermes couriers that they are workers. Hermes uses contracts that attempt to classify couriers as self-employed independent contractors.
In June 2018, the Employment Tribunal ruled that a group of Hermes couriers are workers and entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay. Key points from the judgment include:
  1. most couriers are responsible for deliveries and collections six days a week, every week;
  2. couriers did not have an unfettered right to send substitutes to do their work, and Hermes could veto the courier’s choice of cover or substitute;
  3. Hermes changed rounds without couriers’ agreement;
  4. couriers’ pay was changed unilaterally, rather than being negotiated;
  5. couriers’ rates of pay was essentially set by a computer model;
  6. the contract represented a “wholesale attempt to portray the couriers [as not workers]”;
  7. Head of Courier for Hermes, Conor Ormsby, gave evidence that was “wholly unpersuasive and in respects implausible. He gave the very distinct impression that he was saying what needed to be said to support Hermes’s case […] regardless of whether what he said was accurate. In a number of respects it appeared that he was essentially improvising as he went along.”

Worker rights are not the same as flexibility, and there is nothing in the judgment that requires “fixed shift patterns, routes and pre-set delivery time slots” for couriers to be workers, as Hermes have subsequently suggested.
The working arrangements for all Hermes couriers are very similar and therefore we consider that all Hermes couriers should be entitled to the following:

  • Back pay for unpaid holiday pay for up to the period of their work with Hermes;
  • Compensation if they have received less than the National Minimum Wage;
  • Paid holiday in future if they still work for Hermes; and
  • The right to receive at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. 

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