Delivery firm Hermes has agreed a deal with union GMB which will see its workers receive holiday pay and minimum wage, in what is being labelled a step forward for gig economy workers.
Previously Hermes workers have been considered self-employed and paid depending on how many deliveries they completed throughout the day and the number of miles they covered, which could often result in drivers earning less than minimum wage on some routes.
However, under their new ‘self-employed plus’ arrangement, the workers at Hermes can opt to receive up to 28 days paid annual leave, on a pro-rata basis and receive a pay rate of at least £8.50 per hour, which is more than the minimum wage will be following the upcoming rise to £8.21 in April.
Drivers will be able to opt into the new contract if they choose, but will be free to retain their current self-employed status should they wish. Couriers who join the scheme will also be able to join the GMB and gain full union representation.
The agreement comes following an employment tribunal last year, where a group of 65 couriers were found to be workers who were entitled to basic employment rights, instead of self-employed contractors.
Martijn de Lange, chief executive of Hermes UK, said: “We have listened to our couriers and are wholeheartedly committed to offering innovative ways of working to meet peoples’ differing needs.”
Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, said: “Full credit to Hermes. They’re showing that the gig economy doesn’t have to be an exploitative economy and we look forward to working with them through this ground-breaking agreement. Other employers should take notice, this is how it’s done.”
Unfortunately for gig economy workers, not all workforces are taking steps to give their workers more rights. In December, Uber, the ride-sharing service, lost an appeal against a ruling in 2016 which said drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam were entitled to benefits, but the firm is now planning to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.
“If you are an employee or employer who is unsure of how your employment status can affect the rights available to you, then it is important that you seek specialist advice.”