New allegations against Hermes over gig economy

The Mirror newspaper has run a story about a former delivery woman for Hermes who claims that “You don’t have a life with Hermes. You have to have Hermes running through your blood.” This is the latest in a series of investigations from newspapers into the ‘gig economy’, specifically focused on delivery companies’ work practices.

39 year old Cherie Nolan from Manchester said of her 9 years working with Hermes, “I haven’t had a holiday in seven years, and I only took three weekends off – when my granddad, great-uncle and granny died and I had to go back home to Northern Ireland,” she says.

“When my granny’s hearse was coming up the road, my field manager was still ringing me, telling me I needed to get back to work.”

Nolan said that this was despite the fact that other cover couriers were doing her work for her while she was away from work.

As with the Guardian investigation that Apex Insight reported on some weeks ago, Nolan also felt it difficult to ask for maternity leave when she had her son. “When my son was born in 2010, I worked on the Monday, gave birth on the Tuesday night and on Wednesday I heard they were trying to get people to take over my rounds,” says Cherie.

Nolan made other allegations including those that suggest she had almost no time off for the entire nine years she worked there. In response, Hermes said in a statement that Nolan’s allegations are “historic… full of inaccuracies and are in no way a fair representation of the way we know we operate”.

The statement added: “As a self-employed courier, Cherie would not have been required to carry out services personally – she could have used a cover courier or substitute to carry out services on her behalf.

Finally, Hermes stated, “There are currently 4,500 cover couriers in place, which is close to being one cover courier for every two permanent couriers.”

A number of other delivery companies are going over to the so-called ‘gig economy’, notably Amazon who are recruiting right now for casual delivery staff. B2C cycle couriers Deliveroo have been subjected to staff protests over its piloting a pay per delivery system as opposed to an hourly rate. Parliament has taken this up, and it seems that the media have yet to go silent on this. If the media doesn’t there could be action from government in the near future in terms of regulating the gig economy…