Hermes pays below Living Wage?

The Guardian newspaper has run an expose of delivery company Hermes and the way that it allegedly treats its couriers. All of Hermes delivery drivers are self employed.

The investigation found that many of Hermes delivery drivers are paid below the Living Wage once their expenses and deductions are accounted for. It found that one delivery driver from Manchester who has since resigned from the company was paid the equivalent of £5.50 an hour before tax over nine days last year.

Additionally the Guardian found,

– “Some Hermes couriers fear losing work at short notice if they need to take time off and cannot find cover.

– They are not paid while being trained.

– Some said they worked through illness because they receive no sick pay and fear having their rounds withdrawn.”

Hermes is one of the largest delivery companies in Europe and unlike many of its rivals, all of the company’s drivers are self employed and paid per parcel delivered. This cuts costs for the company down, meaning that for example it does not have to pay holiday pay or maternity pay. The Guardian alleged that one of its drivers felt that they could only take one day off to give birth to their child, something that Hermes said would be investigated as it was against company policy.

Whether someone is freelancing is subject to employment law in the UK. Where someone has multiple clients and is not solely dependent on one for their income, they can be considered freelance. Where this escalates to someone working 45 or more hours a week (full time) then this may well be questioned, and the employer could be forced to pay statutory in work benefits such as holiday pay. As things stand, the drivers of Hermes have to get cover when they take time off and are not paid for that time away from their rounds.