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UK – Hermes couriers win employment case as they are ruled workers not self-employed

25 June 2018

An employment tribunal in Leeds has ruled in a landmark case that Hermes couriers are workers and not self-employed and are entitled to receive the minimum wage and holiday pay.

The group of 65 Hermes couriers are also entitled to reclaim unlawful deductions from their wages due to their incorrect classification as self-employed.

The case is expected to have a significant effect on thousands of Hermes couriers who are under the same contract. The ruling is also likely to have an impact on other gig economy cases.

Frank Field, Chair of the work and pensions committee, said the ruling “ranks among the most substantial judicial interventions ever to support vulnerable workers in this country”.

The GMB Union, who helped bring the case against Hermes, also commented with general secretary, Tim Roache stating, “This is yet another ruling that shows the gig economy for what it is - old-fashioned exploitation under a shiny new façade. Not only will this judgement directly affect more than 14,000 Hermes couriers across the country, it’s another nail in the coffin of the exploitative bogus self-employment model which is increasingly rife across the UK.”

A Hermes spokesperson said: "We will carefully review the Tribunal’s decision, but we are likely to appeal it given that it goes against previous decisions, our understanding of the witness evidence and what we believe the law to be.  

“Nevertheless we have always been fully prepared for any outcome of this decision and its impact on 15 couriers and former couriers.  In the meantime, it is business as usual, and we remain committed to providing couriers with the benefits of flexible working and the ability to earn well in excess of the National Living Wage,” the spokesperson said.

The ruling follows another similar landmark gig economy case earlier this month when UK plumbing and heating engineer has won a legal battle against Pimlico Plumbers over his working rights.

According to Fiona Coombe of SIA, “this is only a tribunal decision, and while it may be significant for a large group of riders, it is not binding on any other court or tribunal."

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