The union GMB has launched legal action against the courier giant Hermes.
The case is on behalf of eight lead claimant Hermes couriers, who are allegedly being denied their workers’ rights and proceedings have been lodged with the Employment Tribunal by solicitors Leigh Day.
Michael Newman, a discrimination and employment law specialist at Leigh Day, says: “We believe that Hermes is deliberately avoiding giving couriers the rights to which they are entitled. It does so by labelling the couriers who work for them as self-employed, when the reality is different.
“We have started employment tribunal proceedings to challenge this, so that these couriers can enforce their rights as workers.”
GMB says its case against Hermes could force the company, which delivers for a host of household names, to reconsider the way it treats all of its drivers.
Its claimants are currently described as ‘self-employed couriers’ by Hermes. In classifying their couriers as self-employed, the union points out that Hermes avoids giving them basic rights such as holiday pay and the national living wage.
GMB adds that earlier this month the Work and Pensions Committee branded self-employment contracts used by gig economy companies, as “gibberish” and “almost unintelligible”.
Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, says: “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 companies feel like it, they are the legal right of all UK workers.”