25 June 2018
In the latest employment status challenge against a ‘gig’ economy employer, a tribunal has ruled yet again that workers have been misclassified as self-employed and thus deprived of their employment rights.
This time the claim was brought by GMB on behalf of 65 couriers and former couriers for the delivery firm Hermes, but the union said the “landmark legal victory” could lead to a change in pay and terms for all 14,500 Hermes workers engaged on the same contract.
Leeds Employment Tribunal found that the group of claimants were not in fact independent contractors, as Hermes claimed, but ‘workers’ that are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, holiday pay, and compensation for unlawful deductions from their wages.
The amount owed to the workers by Hermes is due to be calculated at a further court hearing, although it seems the couriers may face a longer legal battle yet, as the firm has announced that it may appeal the decision.
This is the latest success for GMB in its fight against unfair terms in the ‘gig’ economy, after having won similar victories against Uber and Addison Lee. It will be followed by new claims the union is bringing to challenge the employment status of couriers working for Amazon delivery firms.
GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache, called the tribunal’s decision “another nail in the coffin of the exploitative bogus self-employment model”.
“This is yet another ruling that shows the gig economy for what it is – old fashioned exploitation under a shiny new facade.
“Bosses can’t just pick and choose which laws to obey. Workers’ rights were hard won, GMB isn’t about to sit back and let them be eroded or removed by the latest loophole employers have come up with to make a few extra quid.”
Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Frank Field MP, described the ruling as “among the most substantial judicial interventions ever to support vulnerable workers in this country”.
“The decision is a mega knockback to those companies still using old means of exploiting vulnerable workers,” he added.