GMB launches gig economy legal action against Hermes

The GMB union has formally launched legal proceedings against delivery firm Hermes on behalf of eight of its members who allege that they are being denied workers’ rights.

Leigh Day solicitors, working on behalf of the GMB, have lodged papers with a London Employment Tribunal against Hermes.

The GMB has taken a series of legal actions against couriers who have been wrongly labelling their staff as self employed when the law says that they should be employees under the terms in which they actually work. In deeming them self employed, so the couriers are denying them workers’ rights such as holiday and sick pay.

The GMB won one such action against Uber in October, which has now been actively lobbying the government to change employment law in its favour. The GMB has also lodged proceedings against the DX Group and UK Express.

Commenting on the action against Hermes, Michael Newman, of Leigh Day, said: “We believe that Hermes are deliberately avoiding giving their couriers the rights to which they are entitled.

“They do so by labelling the couriers who work for them as self-employed, when the reality is different.

“We have started employment tribunal proceedings in order to challenge this, so that these couriers can enforce their rights as workers.”

As Apex Insight reported yesterday, the House of Commons Works and Pensions Committee has been holding an inquiry into the workings of the “gig economy” and it has now published its report in which it was scathing of the “self-employment” model.

In a statement issued on Monday, Frank Field, Chair of the Works and Pensions Committee, said: “This inquiry has convinced me of the need to offer ‘worker’ status to the drivers who work with those companies as the default option. This status would be a much fairer reflection of the work they undertake which seems to fall between what most of us would think of as ‘self-employed’ or ‘employed’.”  
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